Posted on March 21, 2012 at 4:27 PM
Wednesday, Mar 21 at 4:39 PM
SAN ANTONIO -- Some people call it a crisis in the making. An overwhelming shortage of primary care doctors has San Antonio’s medical school trying to convince its students to choose that career.
Dr. James Holly has been a family practice doctor for almost four decades. He values the one-on-one personal attention he’s able to give his patients.
Many of the 900 medical students studying at the U.T. Health Science Center today won’t choose to be a primary care doctor, though, for fear of being overworked, underpaid and exhausted. Students are more likely to pursue a specialty.
“There’s a lot of glamour to procedures and to thing you do to patients, surgeries, tests, that are very glamorous.” Holly commented. “And quite frankly, they’re also highly reimbursed.”
San Antonio’s medical school is trying to erase some long-held stigmas surrounding primary care to help stave off a shortage.
The Association of American Medical Colleges says the U.S. will be in need of 28,900 primary care doctors by 2015.
Second year medical student Jerry Abraham said even some doctors he knows try to talk him out of family medicine.
“My mom’s cardiologist was telling me ‘please, Jerry, don’t go into family medicine.’ He was saying ‘I’m really looking out for your best interest,’” Abraham said.
With millions more patients coming on to the insurance rolls in 2014, the need for physicians on the front lines will be greater than ever.
“And we want to let primary care physicians know they can be specialists, but their specialty is people,” Holly stated.
“If we don’t convince more of our medical students to take careers in primary care, there could be challenges for those that have coverage, but then don’t have access to care,” Abraham added.
Strides are being made. Of the 200 students graduating from medical school in San Antonio this year, 46 percent are choosing a primary care specialty.