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Category: Health & Wellness / Topics: Health Care History Predictions & Forecasts Trends

Doctors and Others

by Dan Seagren

Posted: January 13, 2019

Looking at the trends…

There is a prediction or two that there will be a future shortage of doctors (physicians). And others? Why is the question. Here are some figures: 100,000 shortage by 2030 (Association of American Medical Colleges); 89,904 medical enrollees in 1917 (a decline from 2016 2.6%); Average time of 14 years of schooling: 4 years college, 4 years of medical school, 3-8 (11-16) years of specialization, residency, fellowships; A large number of specialists compared to years past; Challenges in other fields; High costs in Physician visits, hospitalization, medical clinics, emergency room, medicines, treatments all affect prospect visitors to physicians as well as the website informational outlets.

As an illustration, let me share a recent true story. A person experienced minor disabilities and after several weeks, visited a physician. Several visits and tests were suggested some of which took weeks to schedule. A visit to the same physician resulted in nothing serious from all the tests and three more visits were suggested. After a second opinion, a suggestion was rendered as a prescription and the third visit never occurred (no call from the medical facility). One office did make an appointment but four months into the future.

Hospitals and physicians consolidate quite readily these days and it seems as though those with potential emergency illnesses also must get in line but not as long. One article suggested that the way physician shortages might be shortened is to Change the way Doctors are Educated. If 14 years is the average for specialists (4+4+8 maximum years), specialization is lengthy but may be partly a culprit since the experience mentioned above involved several medical visits with no solution after many weeks.

Now does this clergyman with 4+3+2 post high school years of education rank with other professions? Some may reach 16 years but hardly in sequence of the initional objective. We too and other vocations may see a shortage in 2030 as well.

People now are living longer (but that may change). Science (medical and theological) is making new discoveries, at times abandoning ancient wisdom that is essential when recognized and advocating more by trial and error. I remember lying in my bed at home when my father and my physician visited me after my surgery. No specialists. My first grade teacher kept me after school for weeks to make up for my six weeks recovering at home so I could keep up with my classmates. I did. How far have we progressed, personally and professionally is a good question. 

Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.

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Posted: January 13, 2019

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