recent story in
outlines the decline in the number of doctors practicing family medicine.
Apparently medical students and doctors think specializing will bring
more money and perhaps more prestige than entering primary care. The American
Academy of Family Physicians reports that the percentage of medical school
graduates selecting primary care has declined about 52 percent since 1997.
This in turn means our nation may have a shortage of some 40,000 primary
care physicians by 2020.
Being a family medicine doctor, some believe, is a thankless job. You work
long hours, get paid less, and you have to deal with a lot of bureaucratic
and administrative garbage. However, primary care physicians are supposed
to be the ones guiding our health care and keeping tabs on our various
treatments. In short, the primary care physician is meant to be our go-to
person when it comes to medical issues.
So what does this looming shortage mean for us? It could mean it will be
more difficult to find a family doctor, and then maybe we’ll have
to wait longer just to see the doctor. I for one hope this is untrue,
as I am already finding it hard to find a good primary care physician,
and I already have to wait a long time to get an appointment with my current
Medical students and those thinking about medical careers need to take
a good look at why they want to go into the medical field to begin with.
If it’s because they want to help people, then primary care should
be the most attractive option, since it’s ideally where you build
long-lasting relationships with patients.