Recently, NYU released some news. It was of their plan to provide medical students with a free ride at their typically $60,000 a year school. The path to becoming a doctor is the most arduous, time- and money-consuming educational endeavor that one can take. NYU’s decision has been made in hopes of encouraging more students to pursue low-income specialties such as pediatrics or internal medicine.
Despite the historical benefits of being a doctor such as an excellent income and a tremendous sense of professional gratification from helping people, interest in being a physician is waning. A recent report from the Association of American Medical Colleges projected a shortage of 42,600 to 121,300 physicians by 2030, up from its 2017 projected shortage of 40,800 to 104,900 doctors. So, what’s going on here?
Two (main) factors
Young people just don’t seem as interested in pursuing careers in the field of medicine as they used to be. “There are definitely fewer people going to [med school] and more going into careers like engineering,” Craig Fowler, regional VP of The Medicus Firm, a national physician search and consulting agency based in Dallas, told NBC News.
Another deterrent is that the trendy thing is to be in hip, urban locations, and when you are fresh out of medical school and searching for a residency, you might not have that sort of opportunity.
Those who opt-in … then opt out
Just as interesting are the demographics of those entering the field of medicine, remaining for a short period of time, and then choosing to leave the field. It has been surmised that the sudden eschewing of the field of young medical professionals could be in part because of their inability to find a residency within a reasonable period of time. Not everybody who graduates from med school easily finds a residency and, for this reason, they may decide not to pursue the practice of medicine.
Some leave the field at a later stage because the cons of the job start to outweigh the pros. “After 20 years, I quit medicine, and none of my colleagues were surprised. In fact, they all said they wish they could do the same,” Dr. Amy Baxter told NBC News.
“I began to feel like an easily replaceable cog in the healthcare machine. With the [enforcement] of EHRs [electronic health records], I had to spend more time as a scribe. One night, a child I was treating had a seizure. I couldn’t get the medicine to enable them to breathe because their chart wasn’t in the system yet,” she said. “This kid was fixing to die and I, the doctor, couldn’t get the medicine. It was demoralizing.”
Some find the career, as Dr. Ha-Neul-Seo, director of global recruitment at EF Education First in London, told NBC News, “more tedious than expected.”
“As a patient, you want your doctor to love and be passionate about their work — and I realized that wasn’t me,” Seo said. “Some parts were incredible, but the moments when I felt I was making a true difference were too few and far between. And then there was the issue of work-life balance. I had my first child and was barely seeing him. The schedule was relentless.”
According to Dr. Nicole Swiner, a physician, things have “gotten worse for all of us.” She told NBC News that physicians are more overburdened by “non-medical business” than ever before. As a result, Swiner has “transitioned to more part-time clinical work [so as to focus more on] speaking, writing and consulting.”
If the medical industry wants to prevent physicians from flooding out of the field, the industry has to change drastically. And fast. Free tuition will help, but the industry itself might have to change in order to keep people in the field.
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