Why simply adding more doctors won’t save our health system

It’s no secret that without a stronger primary care foundation, the current reform efforts are unlikely to be successful. If anything, it will only delay the inevitable.

I wrote last month that one discussed solution, adding more residency slots, won’t help: it would simply perpetuate the disproportionate specialist:primary care ratio.

A recent op-ed in The New York Times expands on that theme. The authors suggest that not only does primary care need to be promoted, specialist slots should be limited. Simply building more medical schools, or adding more residency slots, without such restrictions will only add to the number of specialists.

Already, many primary care residency slots go unfilled – what’s the point of adding more?

You have to solve the root cause that shifts more students away from primary care: disproportionately low pay, disrespect that starts early in medical training, and poor working conditions where bureaucracy interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.

Until each of those issues are addressed, simply more spending money to produce more doctors simply isn’t going to work.

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