New Momentum for Investment to Address Worsening Family Doctor Shortage

A recent article in Crain’s Grand Rapids brings attention to the worsening shortage of family physicians and the efforts of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and the state’s medical schools to address the issue. They are calling for increased funding to tackle the critical shortage of primary care physicians in Michigan. Despite a rise in the number of family medicine residency positions nationally, the percentage of unfilled slots in primary care has also grown, indicating a concerning trend.

Dr. Kristi VanDerKolk from Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine emphasized the urgent need for investment in primary care to address the shortage, highlighting the importance of support from federal and state governments as well as payers.

Factors contributing to the decline in medical students choosing primary care include administrative burdens, inadequate insurance reimbursement, and an undervaluation of family physicians. Dr. Beena Nagappala, president of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, stressed the importance of increased investment to combat this crisis and expand access to care.

Financial considerations, such as lower median compensation for primary care physicians compared to specialists, also influence students’ career choices. Dr. Aron Sousa from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine highlighted the impact of debt burden on students’ decisions.

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine has made efforts to promote primary care, with nearly half of its graduates choosing residencies in this field. However, the need for continued investment remains crucial.

The Michigan Academy of Family Physicians supports the MIDOCS program, which incentivizes graduates to serve residencies and practice in underserved areas in exchange for financial assistance. Advocates urge for increased funding to expand the program and retain medical professionals within the state.

In response to the worsening shortage, advocates are calling for the MIDOCS appropriation to be raised to $10.9 million, along with additional one-time investments to increase loan repayments for existing medical residents. This investment is crucial to address the growing demand for primary care physicians and ensure access to healthcare for Michigan residents.