I love being America’s doctor, but I won’t be around forever! That’s why I take pride in our new generation of doctors, who amaze me every day. I encounter eager medical students in the hospital wards, in the operating room, and at the show, where smart, talented medical students work in my medical unit.
This past Friday was “Match Day,” an important day in every young doctor’s life. It’s the day that every physician in America finds out where he or she will train for their residencies after medical school. I remember my Match Day as if it were yesterday. This is the day that the four hard years of work during medical school finally pays off.
This Match Day in particular is pretty amazing because there appears to be a rising trend of students going into primary care and family medicine – two fields that desperately need physicians. This year, the number of medical students going into family medicine increased 39% from last year! The number of those who matched in primary care and internal medicine increased 7% and 6.6% respectively since last year.
This is good news because there’s a shortage of doctors – especially those who are able to serve as the health-care gatekeeper for the general population. Experts predict that the US will require at least 52,000 more family doctors by the year 2025 in order to keep up with the growing and aging population. Without the primary care of family doctors, we risk having millions of Americans without any access to basic, affordable health care. Instead of maintaining one’s health and wellness, many are forced to wait until they get sick and go to the emergency room, which is far more expensive and time consuming.
This is why many are saying that this increase in family physicians isn’t growing fast enough. As Dr. Jeffrey Cain, President of the American Academy of Family Physicians, mentions, “Although we’re pleased with this year’s Match, the growth has slowed. If we’re going to successfully rebalance the health-care workforce on primary care medicine, we need to build the number of US medical school graduates choosing family medicine.”
Personally, I feel the same way. Despite the increase in young future doctors going into primary care or family medicine, there’s still a vital shortage of those kinds of physicians in the US – especially in rural areas, where some have to travel many miles to see a doctor.
That said, congratulations to the Class of 2013. Keep up the good work!