By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
Legislation is being drafted, proposed and in the process of being passed at the state and national level to address America’s growing demand for physicians. As the baby boomer generation presents a double edged sword to medicine, creating more patients as well as more retiring physicians, congressional lawmakers are working on training as many new physicians as possible. The new proposed legislations also aim to defray some of the notoriously expensive costs of a medical school education. The average debt carried by a medical school graduate is reported at $130,000.
The “Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act” (HR 2251) promises to create spaces for 15,000 additional Medicare-supported openings in residency training programs. Residents training for careers in primary care and general surgery would be given top priority.
At the local level, Tennessee and Texas are examples of states that are acting proactively to help alleviate the physician shortage. East Tennessee State University has plans to increase resident class size, especially in light of the proposed federal assistance from HR 2251. In Texas, proposed house bill 2154 would close a tax loophole related to the taxing of smokeless tobacco products in order to provide funding for loan repayment for physicians practicing in medically underserved areas. 114 counties in Texas currently fall short of the national physician to patient ratio of 1:3,500.
As state and federal lawmakers work on their end to graduate enough physicians to meet the national demand, traveling physicians are critical factors in closing staffing gaps in the meantime. Locum tenens jobs are available for travel physicians in rural, city and suburban clinical settings across the country.
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.