AMA Wire

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

For Residents

More GME slots needed to solve physician shortage

The nation's projected physician shortage will not be alleviated unless more residency positions are created to keep pace with the growing number of medical school graduates, education officials told American Medical News recently.

American Medical News reported those comments in a story about rising enrollment at the nation's allopathic medical schools. Enrollment at those schools is expected to expand by 30 percent during a 15-year period ending in 2016, according to a new survey from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

However, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, said to American Medical News, "this won't amount to a single new doctor in practice without an expansion of residency positions."

Medicare funding for graduate medical education (GME) has remained stagnant since the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Meanwhile, competition for residency positions continues to increase. This year 38,377 medical school graduates from the United States and abroad applied for 26,722 U.S. residency positions. Of those, 22,934 applicants from U.S. medical schools were assigned first-year residency positions.

"It's a very real, immediate concern that we will have all of these medical school graduates coming out of school, and some of them won't find a training position because there aren't enough," Christiane Mitchell, AAMC's director of federal affairs, told American Medical News.

The AAMC and AMA continue to advocate for an increase in GME funding and an increase in residency positions.

Tired surgical residents may increase error risk: study

Surgeons in training are still tired enough to raise their risk of making significant errors despite new guidelines limiting their work hours, according to a new study.

Researchers found that orthopedic surgical residents at two Boston-area hospitals were averaging 5½ hours of sleep a night, and so fatigued during waking hours that a quarter of the time their "impairment" was equivalent to being legally drunk.  Based on that level of fatigue, researchers calculated that the residents had a 22 percent greater risk of causing a medical error than alert, well-rested doctors.

The study appears in the May issue of Archives of Surgery, a JAMA Network publication. Read more in an Archives news release.

Annual report shows AMA's impact on physicians' lives, practices

The AMA's 2011 annual report, "The AMA Equation: Illustrated," details how the AMA gives voice to the vast majority of physicians, helping them thrive in their careers and provide the best possible care to patients. Highlighting many of the AMA's accomplishments in 2011, the report showcases the core components of the "AMA equation," including the AMA House of Delegates, individual membership, research and education, practice tools and AMA advocacy.