Becoming a physician or being involved in the medical profession seems to be one of the most prestigious positions in the world. It can be a promising career that can garnish a lot of respect and even contribute to the development of a community by providing healthcare to those who require your service.
Unfortunately, the medical profession is slowly diminishing, and medical doctors are becoming an endangered species. Presently the number of physicians in the U.S. is around 954,000. Which means that is “40,000 less than are presently needed, with the deficit rapidly growing as the population grows and more and more medical consumers are added to the rolls of those receiving care.” This can be troubling considering how long it takes to become a physician.
The result of this is that students are not entering Medical schools because there are no financial incentives to do so. According to The Wall Street Journal, Medical-school tuition can cost a student as much as $50,000 a year. If one studies for four years, that’s $200,000 worth of tuition that they will have to pay for! Not to mention if they have undergraduate tuition from previous years. If only there were more cost effective ways to get students to study medicine, some of the pressure of active doctors could be lifted.
Currently there are 134 accredited medical schools in the U.S. today. However, that does not mean that these schools will be able to keep up with the demand of doctors. Another article from The Wall Street Journal states, “A shortage of primary-care and other physicians could mean more-limited access to health care and longer wait times for patients.” Plus, the residency program where medical graduates train in what field of medicine of their choice is now in disarray.
Even more frightening is that a lot of medical students who have graduated do not even get to practice medicine and cannot even place in a residency program to further learn their craft. CNN details an account of someone with a medical diploma, but is currently waiting tables. According to the NRMP, last year 971 graduates of U.S. medical schools were shut out, accounting of U.S. grads. Which meant that more than 7,000 doctors were left with a diploma that said “M.D.” but no guarantee they would be able to use it.
We will slowly begin to see less and less physicians available for the general public in the years to come. Within ten years from now, most of the doctors will begin to retire, while the new ones will begin to pick up the slack. I guess it is now time to consider putting M.D.’s on the endangered species list and slowly repopulate them within our society.