Caregiver Careers: More Primary Care Medical Doctors Needed

Senior caregivers assisting as family caregivers or working as professional caregivers know the challenges of senior care.  The work can be difficult and the while the pay is above minimum wage and there are some moments of down-time.....the real pay is in the fulfillment of the work, not the paycheck.

Caregivers who truly love the industry may now consider entering into senior care as a full-time profession as the opportunities are many.

A study by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services announced this week that less than 25% of new doctors go into this field, instead preferring a specialty, even though there is currently a shortage of primary care doctors in the U.S.A.

Dr. Candice Chen, an assistant research professor and the lead study author also said that 4.8% of the new primary care physicians open an office in a rural area.

"If residency programs do not ramp up the training of these physicians the shortage in primary care, especially in remote areas, will get worse," Chen said in a statement. "The study's findings raise questions about whether federally funded graduate medical education institutions are meeting the nation's need for more primary care physicians."

As someone who did grow up in a rural area, I can both remember and appreciate the ability to just "walk-in" to the doctor's office to have him check an ailment and to even telephone on a weekend or evening.  Dr. Porter was the local doctor in my hometown of 19,000 people.  He specialized in assisting athletes and eventually the town named the high school stadium after him.

But Doc Porter was there when you needed him.  You could just walk in and talk to his office manager or give him a call and he would meet you there, even on weekends and evenings.  Now that we have instant contact services with all types of technology advances, it seems research universities could figure out a way to make rural medical practices more efficient.  

Maybe 50,000 people do not live in one town to provide enough clients for a doctor but maybe with technology such as email and text messaging and digital care plans a medical doctor could live in a rural area and enjoy the country living while still serving hundreds of clients efficiently.  Rural living can be cheaper and more enjoyable, too.

There is also technology being tested for virtual doctor's visits, an expansion upon Skype where the doctor can see you and you can see him and he can then diagnose your problem and even monitor the progress by checking body functions such as blood pressure.

Chen's concern is that taxpayer dollars are supporting the schools that are training the medical doctors, yet these institutions are not focusing on how to use the federal money to make sure we have enough of the right doctors.

  • Studied Career Paths of 8,977 Physicians
  • Physicians Graduated from 759 Medical Residency Sites
  • Timeline of Study:  2006-2008
  • 3 to 5 Years After Residency Ended:  25.2 percent of the physicians worked as primary care doctors (with some working as hospitalists which means this is actually an over-estimate of the number of primary care doctors)
  • 198 out of 759 institutions produced 0 rural physicians during the study period.

Currently, the United States is producing primary care physicians at rates that are "abysmally low," Chen said.

As medical care continues to evolve, it is important that we remember the human aspect that goes beyond a computer.  People who become medical doctors do so because they care and systems must be created for them to deliver the care in rural areas as well as big cities and to practice as a primary care physician.  

Caregivers for seniors should be aware that the senior care industry has been predicted to be the top industry for jobs in the coming decade which guarantees employment.  More caregivers are needed today and you may apply for a senior caregiving job in your area or refer-a-friend for a caregiving job and be entered for a chance to win weekly and monthly prizes.

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