Business of Health Care: Addressing national shortage of physicians

This is one of six articles in the Business of Health Care series. 

Amongst all the debate about how the health care system could be changed to be better, more affordable and more accessible, what’s often lost is that being able to provide health care services at all begins with having enough doctors and other health care professionals to do so.

You may have already heard whispers that our country is facing a shortage of physicians. And unfortunately, Texas is near the bottom when it comes to having an adequate number of physicians, ranking 45th in the nation in number of physicians per 100,000 people. Dozens of Texas counties do not even have a single primary care physician to provide basic care for the local population.

While there are numerous ideas on alleviating the impact of the growing doctor shortage, ultimately, the solution is training more physicians — especially primary care physicians where the need is greatest.

On the national front, the federal government is trying to close the gap by offering incentives such as student loan forgiveness to primary care physicians who work in medically underserved communities. At the state level, Texas is making headway on expanding existing medical school enrollment and adding several new schools.

But one area that needs more focus is expanding the number of residency programs and slots available to medical school graduates at hospitals throughout the state. After all, where a doctor completes residency is a huge predictor of where he or she will spend their career, and that’s something we all have a stake in.

Learn more about how we can work to address the national physician shortage crisis.

This report, and other episodes, are available at KWBU.org

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Business of Health Care: Addressing national shortage of physicians