Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Doctor Shortage Revisited

Just a note to observe my piece on the physician shortage is drawing a lot of comment (and fire) from readers and other bloggers. Here is an example of a comment from a blogger, D.B.Medical Rants.

To colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Birmingham, Robert M. Centor, MD, is a respected academician and administrator, serving as associate dean of the Huntsville regional medical campus, director of general internal medicine in Birmingham and attending at the Birmingham VA Hospital.

But to hundreds of Web surfers, Dr. Centor is the ”DB" of “D.B’s Medical Rants, "a Web log—or blog—he created in 2002 to broadcast his views on health care and medicine far beyond traditional academia. (“DB”, the site explains, stands for both "da boss," a nickname bestowed by colleagues, and "Dr. Bob," a moniker given him by golfing buddies.)

Dr. Reece Discusses The Elephant in The Room

October 12th, 2007

The Physician Shortage - The Achilles Heel of Health Reform

Dr. Reece nails this discussion. I hesitate to quote any part of his discussion, because the entire piece is so important. I will stress this one issue which is my pet peeve.

Physicians feel most secure in telling stories of difficult diagnoses, obscure cases, and unknown clinical causes. Reformers constantly forget that doctors entered medicine because of the intellectual challenges posed by the differential diagnosis process.

Reformers do not understand the appeal of medicine, nor the desires of patients. They try bureaucratic solutions without understanding the major issues.
To these suggestions I would add this one: have every pundit, every management consultant, every politician, and every health care reform, spend a month in busy doctors’ offices, walking in their moccasins, observing the patients they encounter, experiencing first hand their hassles, judging whether information technologies facilitate or hinder practice, and seeing why fewer ambitious young Americans are choosing to be practitioners.

To which I can only stand, clap and shout “Bravo!!”

Addendum: For those who doubt a doctor shortfall exists, or has any import in the scheme of things, I invite you to read, “October Cover Story: Will There Be Enough Doctors?” (www. The piece describes how hospitals are scrambling to recruit doctors to fill the holes in their specialty ranks.

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