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Is there a surplus of physicians in the United States?
Numbers are dynamic and population figures in a country can tell a lot when it comes to what is needed; the health sector is sensitive and thus the country should take all the necessary steps to avoid a shortage of surplus of professionals in the sector. In the decade 1960s and 1970s there was a predicted shortage of doctors this was countered by introduction of double training programs in the federal and states; coming to the 1980s the figures were then predicted to be surplus. In the 1990s ranging debate was on whether to increase staff training and thus the Congress commissioned the Council on Graduate Medical Education(COGME) set up. COGME set up a staffing ratio of 1 doctor to every 370 citizens. The predicted surplus of 165,000 doctors by 2000 in the Journal of American Medical Association in 1994 never happened and there was still need for other physicians.
Cauchon, 2005 in the article “Medical miscalculation creates doctor shortage” America needs to train 3000 to 10000 more physicians annually that would add up to the 25000 trained currently, so as to meet the growing medical requirements of the nation aging population. To train a doctor it takes 10 years Cauchon, 2005 predicts an 85,000 to 200,000 doctor’s shortage in 2020 if adequate measures are not implemented. Cauchon, (2005 para.6) quotes "The truth is, we don't know if there's a shortage of physicians," says AMA President John Nelson, a Salt Lake City obstetrician. "It looks like there are enough physicians for the short term, but maybe we need more because of the aging population". The surplus can be explained in the presence of influx of IMGs (international medical graduates).
What is the likely long-term impact of the influx of IMGs (international medical graduates) into the US healthcare system?
As the saying goes too much of anything is poisonous, therefore a surplus of international medical graduates should be avoided at all costs due to the adverse effects it can have on the health sector. In any case there is a surplus quality will never be assured, this is because the practice will focus more on being a commercial routine and thus deteriorate the quality. Numerous clinics will be set up all over since the graduates have no guaranteed employment with the government and thus try private sectors. Rao, et al., (2006) para.2 states “In spite of the large number of IMGs in American medicine, andthe key role they play in service delivery, there exist a considerablelack of awareness and knowledge of the issues that impinge ontheir education and practice of medicine. Concerns have beenexpressed about deficiencies in their medical education, thealleged poor quality of care that they provide, and their lackof cultural and linguistic competence”
The international medical graduates have undergone training in the US and this brings in the issue quality of training and in the long run attending to patients. A 25% portion of all the physicians in the US are IMG’s. Despite concerns on their education qualifications the IMG’s have been proved to work efficiently at many health sectors and many are preferred by man patients (Weiner, 2002). They have been found to care for Medicaid patients and done it effectively. These graduates are an important resource to the health sector presently and in future. They will be responsible to serving the increased populations in the US particularly in the urban areas where populations are more concentrated and influxes.
According to Morris, et al., (2006) in the article “International medical graduates in family medicine in the United States of America: an exploration of professional characteristics and attitudes” a large proportion is reported to have worked alone or as a pair they gain experience which will be important in the future in becoming specialists and consultants. They have been found to spend more time with patients hence created a culture of understanding the patient hence effective treatment. With IMG the future is bright and the impacts may favor the health sector due to increased competition.
Why is the lack of minority representation in the U.S. health profession such a compelling problem for health policy makers?
Equality is a sensitive issue especially in the present world; all equations of society must be seen to represent all races, gender, and ethnic backgrounds. Without this representations there will be numerous challenges posed by the unrepresented groups. According to Cohen, et al. (2002) in the article “The Case for Diversity in the Health Care Workforce: Interventions to improve the racial and ethnic diversity of the U.S. medical workforce should begin well before medical school” there is still controversy over the achievement of the minority racial and ethnic populations in the health sector.
Increased diversity in terms of race and ethnicity in the workforce of the health sector will be important in providing a cultural aspect in a community that has different minority communities. “A diverse health care workforce will help to expand health care access for the underserved, foster research in neglected areas of societal need, and enrich the pool of managers and policymakers to meet the needs of a diverse populace” Cohen, et al. (2002).
To achieve this desired diversity there is need for fundamental reforms in the precollege education structure that the health professionals must address. This is because the US is becoming more democratic and thus must represent all the minority populations that are ever increasing. These minority groups include; the African American, the Hispanic, and the Asian populations. In balancing this diversity the health sector will be perfectly achieving its objective of protecting, restoring, and improving health to the American population.
The four reasons explaining the essence of greater diversity in the sector include; advancing cultural proficiency, increased access to quality services, implementing a strong medical research program, and implementing an optimal management health care program across board. The implementation of a health sector program that represents all populations will ease the compelling problem for health policy makers.