Major Changes To The Way Physicians Are Trained Is Needed

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A recent article published by NPRtakes a closer look at physician training. The Institute of Medicine panel recently produced a report stating that the current physician training system is in need of an overhaul.  Gail Wilensky, co-chairwoman of the panel, stated “we recognize we are recommending a substantial change…we think it’s key to justifying the continued use of public funds.” The Federal Government allocates approximately $11 billion in new funding each year for physician training, far more than any other profession.

This system has been in place for many years. Despite the large amount of funding, there are many problems. They include “uneven geographic distribution of physicians, too many specialists and not enough primary care providers, and a lack of cultural diversity in the physician workforce.” The panel proposes many changes. They recommend moving towards a “performance-based system, rather than one that merely funnels money to any facility with an accredited training program.” The panel does not intend to drastically cut funding, but rather, change the allocation of the money and grants. A new GME Policy Council would be created to “oversee workforce issues and commission research on how well the federal dollars are being spent.” Any and all changes mentioned in the report would need to be approved by Congress prior to taking effect. It will be interesting to see how the current system is revised, and how all stakeholders will be affected.

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