WOSU has the story….
COLUMBUS, OH (2008-03-21) The oldest baby boomers are about 10 years from the age when they will likely require additional medical attention. Some worry that the surge in numbers of people needing care could overwhelm the U.S. health care system which is already facing a few problems.
Geriatricians are doctors who specialize in the elderly. They are few in number, and the field is not attractive to medical students. Is this a cause for concern? Maybe. Maybe not.
To determine whether the future supply of doctors in Ohio will meet the projected demand, state policy makers commissioned a study by the research arm of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Robert Phillips directs the center that conducted the study. He says it found Ohio’s supply of doctors to be healthy – with one big exception – geriatricians
Phillips says, while Ohio’s population growth is shrinking, its older population is growing. He sees a current shortage “that’s just going to get worse.”
The New York Times on Wednesday examined a “migration” of “top tier” medical students from “branches of health care that manage major diseases toward specialties that improve the life of patients,” such as dermatology and plastic surgery, and that improve the “lives of physicians, with better pay, more autonomy and more-controllable hours.”
According to the Times, dermatology and plastic surgery are “among the most competitive” residency programs. Dermatology, plastic surgery and otolaryngology had the highest median medical board scores and the largest percentage of medical honor society members among 18 specialties, according to a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the National Resident Matching Program.
Internists in 2006 worked an average of 50 hours weekly, compared with about 40 hours weekly for dermatologists, according to an annual survey by the magazine Medical Economics. A recent survey conducted by the Medical Group Management Association found that internists have average annual incomes of $191,525, compared with $390,274 for dermatologists. In addition, dermatology “offers more independence from the bureaucracy of managed care because patients pay up front for cosmetic procedures not covered by health insurance,” the Times reports.
“Medical school professors and administrators say such discrepancies are dissuading some top students at American medical schools from entering fields, like family medicine, that manage the most prevalent serious illnesses,” according to the Times. Such students are “being replaced in part by graduates of foreign medical schools, some of whom return to their home countries to practice,” the Times reports.