Where Are the Doctors Going to Come From?

As the Obama White House pushes for health-care enhancements, the startling lack of doctors in the US, particularly primary care doctors, is speedily becoming a crisis in dire need of being averted. The population of individuals to be targeted to be put under health insurance by the government programs is about thirty million. However, research studies show that there is a heavy decline in the number of medical practitioners that could treat them. One solution that gets around this is to increase the number of doctor visas for foreign doctors.

Medical Education

Only a choice few of the thousands of medical school applicants get into medical school. This is the first restricting factor. There aren’t enough slots to accommodate all the qualified applicants. There is a major investment of time for going to medical school (and a longer time commitment if the student chooses to specialize). This is the second point.

The physicians in the shortest supply are primary care physicians and these are the doctors most needed by the greatest percentage of patients. This is because of more than just these reasons presented above. For one, primary care medicine doesn’t pay as well as being a specialist. Newly minted medical practitioners are buried in student loan obligations and it is, therefore, in the best personal interest of the students to choose specialties that allow them to pay off the loans as fast as possible. Also, medical practitioners get paid the smallest amount for their time with insurance payments being among the very lowest for their services.

Reduced Government Funding

It is typical, that after graduating from medical school, medical practitioners are required to serve a three year residency program working under with wings of more experienced medical practitioners. A medical residency is typically obligated for all physicians and it is at least three years. Providing this residency training is limited by the budget cuts that hospitals and medical centers have to deal with in this budgetary environment. Annually, 100,000 residency slots are paid for by various government health-care programs such as the VA, Medicare and Medicaid. This leads to doctors-in-training waiting to fill in positions for residents who have completed their 3 years of residency.

The drive to cut costs in medicine always is focused on the physicians and doesn’t stop after residency. Along with public sector insurance program reimbursements being squeezed down, private sector reimbursements have also been lowered. The excessive paperwork needed to process these claims has frustrated doctors even more. Doctors have even been lobbying for health care reforms to include an gain in reimbursements.

Personal Choice

Most American families are now focused on either making more to make ends meet or spending more quality time with each other. These are the lifestyle choices American families make. This is no different for doctors. Most are opting to spend less time at work and more time with leisure time activities or family activities.

Physicians also make personal decisions that affect the medical community of a geographical area. Doctors have a choice of where they will work based on their own wants and, thus, not many medical practitioners choose to work in rural areas. Additionally, medical practitioners want to go to states and regions where there is a greater percentage of health care insurance coverage–quite simply, like anyone else, they want to be reasonably paid for their services. Another factor in determining whether doctors go to particular regions is the malpractice insurance rates. Places with high malpractice insurance rates are places that doctors avoid.


A third of the current physicians in America will reach retirement age between now and 2020. The irony is that these baby boom medical practitioners will be retiring just as the whole baby boom cohort is also going to be reaching the age (retirement age) when their medical needs increase significantly. Given that old people are susceptible to disease and the normal signs of aging, all these new retirees will need healthcare services. The proportions will not match and a steady increase in medical providers is considered necessary in order to meet the coming demand.

Solutions are needed to this decline in the number of doctors in America and several proposals have been made. Positions are being increased in medical schools and new schools are being launched. Lawmen pushing for health care reforms are considering incentives for primary care medical providers. The shortage is real and cities are asking themselves whether it is too late to stop this demographic reality.

Despite these issues, there are any number of foreign doctors who are anxious to come to the US where the opportunities both financially and to use the most leading edge medical technology are still the greatest. An increase in the number of medical visa that come with it the limitations on the specialties and the geographies where the immigrant doctors can practice would do a lot to alleviate these issues. Experienced lawyers in immigration for doctors can be helpful even in today’s environment.

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