by Paige Minemyer
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Primary care will be hit especially hard by the physician shortage, but addressing burnout and keeping several key federal programs could help stem the flow of docs from family medicine, experts say.
John Sealey, D.O., president of the Michigan Osteopathic Association’s board of trustees, said he would not be a doctor today without the National Health Service Corps program, and Maria Verduzco, M.D., medical site director at Central Washington Family Medicine, said the program, in which she participated, is a major recruiting tool.
“The current system that we have is working,” Verduzco said, “and I am proof of that.”
Funding for the program, which connects primary care physicians to underserved regions and assists with student loan repayment, will expire at the end of this month if Congress doesn’t act.
Sealey and Verduzco were two of four speakers participating in a panel convened by the National Coalition on Health Care. Other speakers included Jack Ende, M.D., president of the American College of Physicians, and Clif Knight, M.D., senior vice president for education at the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The physician shortage will especially impact primary care, as it can be hard to funnel doctors into that track, Ende said. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that residency training often occurs in hospitals and primary care docs make less than their more specialized counterparts.
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