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Are International Medical Students The Answer To The Looming Physician Shortage?

Howard Dean wrote an op-ed defending the use of foreign international medical graduates:

Today, young physicians with degrees from international medical schools face skepticism from some in the American medical community. That strikes me as misinformed thinking, given the large number of international medical school graduates practicing in the United States, alongside American medical school graduates, and given that the American medical system depends on them to fill the growing doctor shortage.

The federal Health Resources and Services Administration predicts there will be a shortage of approximately 55,000 physicians in the United States by 2020. We simply can’t build the capacity to meet our growing needs for skilled physicians — especially given budgetary constraints on schools receiving government subsidies. Even if the new medical schools now in the planning stages all come to pass, they won’t turn out enough primary care physicians to meet urgent needs in urban and rural communities.

I actually don’t have a lot to say about the IMG thing,  I have worked with and hired many IMG’s and their skill and quality vary as much as US graduates. But this whole argument seems to miss the central point regarding the projected physician shortage. The supply of new medical graduates is not the choke point, under the current state of affairs. The choke point is the number of residency training slots. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Healthcare Reform Q&A With Mother Jones Of Nurse Ratched’s Place

nurse-ratched-smallest-webI hate it when I can’t get into conversations that are happening on my own blog. My job at UGH (undisclosed government hospital) has a way of getting in the way of my real life. Jeanne T. has asked a lot of valid questions about healthcare reform. She also asked me to answer some of her questions. Here we go:

Have you read HR: 3200?

I have not read all of H.R. 3200 – America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Reading War and Peace is more entertaining than reading a congressional bill, so I only got through about 150 pages of text before my brain cells started imploding. However, I did learn a few things about the proposed legislation. No one is going to kill your grandma or reduce Medicare benefits. This new legislation will save money by cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse. Maybe that’s why the insurance industry is spending billions of dollars to defeat this bill.

Question: Do you currently have money taken out of your paycheck
for Social Security?
 Do you believe that you will receive Social Security assistance when you pass the age of 65, 70?
 What is the reason that you and I will not receive Social Security checks?

Answer: Do I have money taken out of my check for Social Security? Is the Pope Catholic? The good people at UGH take money out of my check every two weeks for Social Security, and I know that I’ll never see that money again.

I’m a nurse for life, which means I’m not going to retire. In other words, I’m going to die with my Nurse Mates on. Unfortunately, I believe that my peers are going to receive meager monthly social security checks after they retire. I know where you are heading with this question. “If the government can’t run the Social Security Administration, what makes you think that they can run a public health care system?” It’s all President Franklin Roosevelt’s fault. The social security system is the ultimate Ponzi scheme, and Roosevelt set it up as a safety net to help out old folks just before they died. The average life expectancy back when Social Security was set up was around 60 years old. President Roosevelt got messed up because he thought he we would always have more money coming in than going out. He didn’t know that our life expectancy was going to go up, and he had no idea that future administrations were going to tack on more entitlement programs. Now Roosevelt’s Ponzi scheme is out of control, not so much because of government mismanagement, but because we aren’t dying off quick enough to make the system work. Hey, wait a minute. Maybe we need to rethink those death panels. Just sayin’.

Question: Can the US government run a public health insurance agency?

Answer: Yes, I believe our government can do whatever we have the will to do. We put a man on the moon didn’t we? If those blood sucking, profit driven, insurance companies who make their money by keeping us away from healthcare providers can run insurance companies, why can the US government? Uncle Sam wants to keep us around until we’re too old to work so we can keep paying into the social security system. See above.

Question: How do you feel about politicians writing healthcare reform versus healthcare professionals?

Answer: I think that healthcare providers are in a better position to understand the lingo and the fine details that go into healthcare bills, but that doesn’t necessarily make them more trustworthy when they champion causes. The letters “MD” does not mean anything if the person lacks integrity. In my opinion, Dr Howard Dean is a man of great integrity. By the way, there are three nurses in Congress: Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), and Lois Capps (D- CA). I’ve had the honor of meeting each one of these fine ladies. They rock! Johnson and Capps support public option healthcare reform. McCarthy’s website reports that she supports H.R. 3200 – America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.

That’s it for part one. I’ll write part two later. Like I said, working at UGH has a way of getting in the way of my personal life. It’s been nice talking to you. Keep the conversation going while I’m working this weekend at UGH.

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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