Mal-distribution of Physicians
Though physician shortages are particularly evident in inner-city and rural communities, experts point to nationwide demographic, changes among baby boomer and their health care needs, as well as trends in medical school enrollment and specialization as factors. Shortages are most predominant in rural and inner city settings potentially creating serious consequences in patient care. Physician supply in rural areas is closely tied to the specialty mix of American physicians. Specialty has a powerful effect on physician’s location of choice for each of the major specialty groups. Family physicians distribute themselves in proportion to the population in both rural and urban locations and are the single…show more content… This physician shortage has serious implications for access to care, the quality of care, and the health of the individuals residing in a rural setting.
The Bureau of Health Professions estimates that 3,400 physicians are required to eliminate the most desperate needs of rural and inner city shortages. This physician shortage and current gaps in care are likely to worsen over time unless a solid action plan is established.
One way to remedy the problem of rural and inner city geographic misdistribution is to change the medical education system to select, train and strategically place more healthcare workers into rural and inner city locations. Students with rural origin are likely to train in primary care the return to rural areas. Focusing on recruitment of such students is a key component to addressing the shortage. In conjunction, inner city students tend to return to the inner city setting to practice and should be recruited for such roles.
A powerful mechanism to improve the flow of health professionals to rural areas is the use of targeted incentives. If some form of economic motivation enhances the reimbursement for rural services, then physicians are more likely to locate in these areas. This approach has been used with some success in Canada and Australia, where a variety of bonuses increase reimbursement for selected rural