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Thousands Of Doctors In America Can’t Get Into Residency Programs. What Will It Mean For America’s Physician Shortage?




Students and doctors of Medical Science listen to the governor of Florida during a press conference to address the rise of coronavirus cases in the state, at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, on July 13, 2020.
Students and doctors of Medical Science listen to the governor of Florida during a press conference to address the rise of coronavirus cases in the state, at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, on July 13, 2020.
CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

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In recent years, medical schools have been producing more doctors, but hospital residency programs— a crucial step doctors must take to become fully licensed in the states— can’t keep up.

The result is that many young doctors are “chronically unmatched” and hold degrees that are effectively useless. Many residency programs use filters to sift through applications, which may automatically eliminate Americans who hold degrees from international medical schools or who have taken breaks (no matter the reason) between school and residency. The pool of doctors unable to get into residencies began growing in 2006, when the Association of American Medical Colleges instructed medical schools to increase first year enrollment by 30 percent, but federally supported residency positions were capped by the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. The issue is exacerbated by the fact that the United States is facing a physician shortage, which the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates will mean the U.S. is short 54,100 to 139,000 physicians by 2033. What can be done to ensure more doctors are able to get into residency programs?

Today on AirTalk, we are hearing more about residency programs and chronically unmatched doctors. Are you in this position? We want to hear from you! Give us a call at 866-893-5722.

With guest host Libby Denkmann

Guests:

Emma Goldberg, writer for the New York Times and author of the recent piece ‘I Am Worth It’: Why Thousands of Doctors in America Can’t Get a Job; she tweets @emmabgo

Katherine Julian, professor of medicine at UCSF and associate dean for Graduate Medical Education in the School of Medicine, which oversees UCSF’s many residency and fellowship programs