Health Care Workforce and Interprofessional Education
Clinical shadowing guidelines detailed in new publication
For young people considering a career in health care, real-life exposure to the field of medicine is essential, and medical school admissions committees place value on such experiences as they consider potential matriculants.
Varying state and federal regulations, however, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, may impede physicians from providing pre-medical student shadowing experiences. In addition, standards for shadowing may vary widely from one hospital or clinic to the next, with no recognized national standard.
A new publication from the Association of American Medical Colleges (in consultation with the AMA and others) seeks to address these concerns. Guidelines for Clinical Shadowing Experiences for Students provides a framework to help pre-medical students understand the difference between shadowing and volunteering, potential learning objectives of the experience, expected responsibilities, and the appropriate code of conduct. The guidelines also suggest a protocol for a physician–pre-medical student agreement as it relates to patient interaction.
Concerns about the need for more standardization of shadowing experience were also reflected in a resolution that was considered by the AMA House of Delegates at its June 2013 meeting. The resolution was subsequently referred for a report, which is currently scheduled to be presented at the AMA's 2014 annual meeting.
Health care job growth "tepid," but demand for physicians still high
Recent job growth data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the health care sector created 166,800 new jobs through the first three quarters of 2013, down from 226,400 at the same point in 2012.
At the same time, reported HealthLeaders Media, demand for physicians continues to be high. A leading physician recruiting firm saw a 14 percent increase in its physician and advanced practice recruiting assignments.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the physician pipeline, new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges show that a record number of students applied to and enrolled in the nation's medical schools in 2013. The total number of applicants to medical school grew by 6.1 percent to 48,014, surpassing the previous record set in 1996 by more than 1,000 students, and first-time applicants increased by 5.5 percent to 35,727.
Data from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine reflected a similar upward trend for osteopathic medical schools, with new medical student enrollment at 6,449 students this fall, an increase of 11.1 percent over 2012.
These data highlight the need for additional residency slots to accommodate this substantial growth in enrollments. The AMA believes Congress should ensure continued federal funding for graduate medical education to protect access to care and address physician shortages in undersupplied specialties and underserved areas. Visit the AMA's grassroots advocacy site, www.SaveGME.org, to be part of the concerted effort to urge Congress to ensure access to care for the nation by protecting federal funding for GME.
AMA resources for you