There can be little doubt that physician shortages within the United States have reached crisis levels in recent years. As the population within the US ages, more and more communities are struggling to provide even basic healthcare services to citizens. By one estimate, in fact, the Midwest is now short of 13,000 doctors. But is there truly a shortage of capable physicians in the United States? Or is the US medical system simply broken?
For many young doctors, for example, graduation from medical school is usually a time to take stock of one’s accomplishments and prepare for the rigors of training within a hospital setting. However, nearly ten percent of medical school students are unable to secure a hospital residency after graduation. For the most part, this places such graduates in the position of being unable to practice medicine.
Without matching into a residency program, there can be little doubt that most medical school graduates will struggle to find work. Employers may question why a person with a medical degree is unable to practice medicine, and medical school graduates without residencies may simply be overqualified for non-doctor jobs in the medical field.
At a time when many hospitals within the US are experiencing physician shortages in record numbers, the lack of opportunities for these physicians is nothing short of tragic. Were these medical professionals permitted to carry out their training in a hospital setting, doctor shortages would undoubtedly decrease to manageable levels throughout the country.
Moreover, allowing young doctors to complete hospital training programs would also enable more aspiring physicians to achieve their career objectives and avoid a lifetime of debt. (Many newly-minted medical school graduates hold around $500,000 in non-dischargeable educational loans.) Creating job opportunities for these individuals would be a win-win situation for everyone involved: Physicians would be able to seek further training and pursue their vocation, and more at-risk communities would have access to capable doctors.
How the shortage of medical professionals will be dealt with in the future is anyone’s guess, but for now a generation of doctors will have to stand on the sidelines while the US enters into the throes of another self-inflicted healthcare emergency. With so many people at risk, however, it is clear that putting more talented young doctors to work might just be the solution that the country needs.