Doctor Shortage, the Next Pandemic

Excerpt: According to the AMA, in many communities around the United States, there is a physician shortage, which presents a serious health care problem. For a host of reasons, more than twenty million people are affected by the inability to access quality medical services. While the premise of a popular television show, “Northern Exposure,” alluded to this very predicament some time ago, most viewers were likelier caught up in the relationships between the quirky inhabitants of Cicely, Alaska instead of pondering the very real implications for those without access to a qualified doctor.1 Similar to the circumstances in which the main character, Dr. Joel Fleischman, upon graduating from Columbia University medical school (which he attended on a scholarship from the state of Alaska), finds himself assigned to be the General Practitioner of a tiny Alaskan town in order to pay for his education, “medical schools have adopted a selective medical school admission policy to enhance a primary care choice in underserved communities.”2 The reality, though, is that while some students eventually practice in underserved communities, others do not.

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