Clashing Opinions on Physician Shortage Solutions

November 2, 2017

Tempers flare as readers weigh-in on possible solutions for the nationwide physician shortage.

Editor's note: We work hard to write about issues that will help physicians run their practices in a manner that is both prosperous and efficient, while still delivering quality patient care. And we are delighted when our readers let us know what they are thinking. This month we excerpt from articles regarding solutions for the physician shortage and how to beat burnout. The articles have been edited for space and is followed by comments made by readers at PhysiciansPractice.com.

Different Solutions for the Physician Shortage

Even as physicians are busier than ever, some with exceedingly heavy panels, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has alarmingly concluded that physician demand will exceed supply by 2030. AAMC, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit focused on medical research and education, predicts shortages in primary care between 61,700 and 94,700 physicians by 2025, and as high as 60,300 for non-primary care specialties.

Danziger says: This website is obviously a lobby for promotion of non-physicians (PAs and NPs) to serve as physicians without going to medical school and then obtaining a license to practice medicine.

You never reply to these observations that have been written [here] before.

PAs and NPs are great when they work according to their training and experience, but they are not physicians, who are trained very differently and you cannot glean the experience of a physician by training as anything else. Why not realize these differences and applaud the proper utilization of these non-physicians, but don't push to have them become physicians with going to school and having the in-depth training required?

There is nothing wrong in acknowledging these observations but your obvious bias toward using non-physicians as physicians is always evident in your "studies." Your solution to having more working physicians by having non-physicians is not the answer to a physician shortage.

I care for NPs and PAs and they come to me, a physician and do not go to NPs and PAs when they are sick. Why? Maybe they know something.

I wonder who sponsors your site and what lobbies you support.

Carol replies: Here we go again with the tired old argument that NPs and PAs cannot successfully provide excellent care in the place of physicians due to educational discrepancies. In case you don't know Danziger, NPs will soon be required to have a [doctor of nursing practice] to practice so enough with that argument. I never hear you rag on your good psychology colleagues because they are not well enough educated. You will lose the battle of this ridiculous war and NPs, who are educated to encompass care of the WHOLE person, will prevail. So be gracious and try to rub some elbows with NPs as colleagues, not patients. [By the way] the general public does prefer NPs, we listen better and spend more time with them.

Kevin says: There is a myth that there is a shortage of physicians. What really exists is a shortage of doctors who will go to school for years then work for little or no money and are willing to subject themselves to onerous government regulations. Don't forget the hours of free labor doctors put in to beg for approval for medical services from insurances companies. I have worked for Kaiser and they pay about half wages (compared to what I make outside Kaiser)…That's why the government advocates bringing in low paid foreign doctors who are happy to work for such pay.

7 Ways to Recover from Physician Burnout

Burnout is driving good doctors out of the profession. "Some studies show that 38 percent of practicing physicians say they are thinking about quitting, retiring, or otherwise cutting back," says Dan Diamond, MD, a Bremerton, Wash.-based family physician and consultant. But burnout doesn't have to be a career ender. Recognizing and addressing burnout can help you make the changes that will revitalize your job rather than ruin it. Here are a few suggestions for taking back your career and pushing burnout to the side.

S says: Sorry, but I think this "presentation" is very naive. It assumes that it is easy for the physician to change these elements. It's the system that is broken and physicians are no longer in control of their own lives and careers. That's why burnout is epidemic. Even the statistics are incorrect. Nearly half of physicians have burnout symptoms. The statistic of 38 percent is probably half of what it really is.

Dr. Ruby Rabiya says: Wow, is this a joke? I think most of us feeling burned out have already tried these and this is how we got through residency. But to do this forever, that is to placate our concerns as "it will be ok," is simpleton and almost a definition of insanity.