Good News, Bad News for Med School Students

October 1, 2010

A pair of reports this week provides some great insight into today's medical school students, but also some grim news to those pondering a career as a physician.

A pair of reports this week provides some great insight into today's medical school students, but also some grim news to those pondering a career as a physician.

Let's start with the good news. Mobile and Web-based technology company Epocrates has deemed the current crop of medical students as "the most technology-savvy yet," given their firm embrace of technology ranging from EHRs to mobile health applications via their smartphones.

Among the findings of the Epocrates survey are that students are turning to more mobile or online references, including the company's products, and 70 percent of current med school students say having an EHR is an important characteristic of a future employer.

Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of the current medical school population says they are using an iPhone, iPod, or Blackberry with 40 percent planning to upgrade to a newer smartphone in the next year or so.

Perhaps there is no surprise here that the members of this generation, who grew up with technology, are now embracing it in their professional career.

OK, now the bad news - sorry.

The group that represents accredited U.S. medical schools - the Association of American Medical Colleges - says the results of the Affordable Care Act will result in a larger physician shortage than originally thought.

The AAMC says that, beginning in 2015, the physician shortage will not be around 39,600 as previous projections predicted, but actually closer to 63,000 with "worsening shortages through 2025," due to the large increase in insured Americans seeking care.

The group also foresees a shortage of non-primary care specialists come 2015 to the tune of 33,100 in the areas of cardiology, oncology, and emergency medicine.

The AAMC does say the number of medical students will continue to rise, however, adding 7,000 new grads over the next decade. But it also warns that unless Congress increases residency training slots by 4,000 per year many will be without access to care.

So as those in the "technology generation" get older and ponder being doctors, willing and ready to use EHRs and other mobile health applications at their fingertips, there will be fewer slots for them to train and eventually become doctors.

Let's hope those new smartphones have a job searching application and perhaps a resume builder as well.