Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2013
This Week's News
This Week's News
AMA calls for more residency slots, launches grassroots campaign
If the United States is to stave off projected physician shortages, graduate medical education (GME) must be strengthened nationally, the AMA cautioned in recent testimony before the Institute of Medicine.
"As millions of Americans obtain health insurance and can access needed health care, it is critical that our nation ensures a strong and viable physician workforce so patients can get the care they need," said Susan E. Skochelak, MD, AMA Group Vice President for Medical Education, in a news release.
"The AMA supports multiple methods to help ease existing and predicted shortages, including increasing the number of residency training positions to alleviate physician shortages and ensure patient access to care," Dr. Skochelak said.
While the number of U.S. medical students continues to increase as new medical schools open and existing schools expand their enrollment to meet the nation's need for more physicians, the federal government has kept the number of residency slots frozen since 1997.
"If the graduate medical education cap is not lifted," the AMA explained in its testimony, "hundreds of U.S. medical students will graduate with significantly limited opportunities to finish their training and become practicing physicians, and the growing number of U.S. citizens and non-citizens graduating from foreign medical schools will not be able to train in the United States.
"Ultimately, the increase in medical school enrollment will have minimal impact on the physician shortage unless the legislative and structural challenges being faced by GME are addressed and a secure, rational and fiscally sound funding model is in place."
The AMA also has launched a new grassroots campaign to raise awareness in Congress of the need to preserve funding for residency training in the federal budget. Physicians and medical students can urge their members of Congress to support GME funding by sending an email through the AMA Physicians Grassroots Network.