Can they help reduce the shortage of doctors in the United States?
When Carly Margulies falls in the Olympic halfpipe final for Team USA after more than two years out of competition due to injury, she will not only be playing sports United States team equipmentbut also the scars of an astonishing seven knee surgeries. Teammate Chris Mazdzer will also defend his 2018 Olympic luge silver medal after shoulder surgery. Doctors have helped restore the knees, ankles and shoulders of dozens of competitors wearing Team USA’s Ralph Lauren.
These athletes could have gone to Mehilainen Sports Hospital in Finland for surgery with Dr. Lempainen or his world renowned colleagues. world famous athletes get treatment there every year. But Team USA can’t hire Dr. Lempainen to treat their athletes at the team’s headquarters in Park City. Before treating anyone in Utah, the state medical board required them to repeat their orthopedic residency, even though Dr. Lempainen could travel with the US team and perform those same procedures at the hospital. of the Olympic Village.
States should allow qualified foreign-trained physicians to practice medicine without repeating their residency. The current rules mean that states routinely turn away qualified doctors treating patients overseas. Experienced physicians can help alleviate the growing shortage of physicians in the United States, ease the burden of an overstretched medical workforce, and improve overall patient care in the United States.
Despite world-renowned expertise, qualified physicians trained outside the United States or Canada cannot practice medicine in the United States unless they sacrifice years of their career by repeating their residency (training years in a post-medical school in a medical specialty) because the medical commissions refuse to recognize equivalent training abroad. As Americans increasingly engage Medical tourismand some of the richestmost powerful and most physically gifted individuals get state-of-the-art care in hospitals around the world, regulations prevent those same doctors from treating ordinary Americans at home.
The United States today faces a shortage of thousands of doctors. The shortage is expected to exceed 120,000 doctors by 2030. To make matters worse, some 40% of American physicians will reach retirement age that same year.
This problem is felt most acutely in rural areas at present, but will soon become a national reality. For example, Wisconsin already has a shortage of primary care doctors in 33 counties and experts predict a shortage of 2,000 doctors. shortage by 2030. Arizona shortage of 8,200 physicians and the projected shortage of 3,000 physicians in Missouri provide local snapshots of this growing national challenge.
These shortages are translating into longer wait times, less in-depth medical visits and more burnout among medical professionals – caregivers already exhausted after two years of caring for COVID patients on top of their workload. usual.
The limited number of residency spaces for new physicians exacerbates shortages. Medical school graduates must “match” and complete residency training in their chosen specialty before they can practice without supervision. But just last year, some 2,200 medical school alumni in the United States was not a residency program. Requiring foreign-trained doctors to repeat residency before practicing in the United States only increases the number of US medical school graduates who cannot find residency and yet does nothing to increase the supply of physicians in the United States.
We must open the door to allow the best doctors from around the world to practice medicine in the United States. States should remove the requirement that international doctors must repeat their residency, while reserving the authority of state medical boards to ensure that doctors have the required skills and experience. common-sense legislators in Arizona, Missouriand Wisconsin have proposed exactly that and other states should follow that example. These reforms can save lives by improving access to care, especially primary care, without sacrificing quality.
The Winter Olympics feature world-class athletes like Carly and Chris soaring above the snow and Abby Roque make history by becoming the first Native woman to skate for the United States hockey team. The work of the doctors who help these incredible athletes recover from injury to pursue their passions for competition is also on display. States should streamline the process to allow world-class international doctors to deliver their healing power to Americans at home, not just those with the resources or on teams who can afford the trip overseas.
Jonathan Wolfson is Chief Legal and Policy Officer at Cicero Institute where he focuses his research on health care and regulatory policy. He previously headed the US Department of Labor’s Policy Office.