Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Family Docs Rock!

I'm Dr. A, and I approved this message... (Story from WBAL-TV in Baltimore)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A rally was held in Washington D.C. Wednesday to bring attention to a shortage of family physicians.

The American Academy of Family Physicians said they want Congress to increase medical payments to family doctors.

They also said they want voters to question candidates about health care.

A workforce report by the group showed the number of family physicians has dropped by 50 percent as younger doctors opt for specialties that offer better pay.


Anonymous said...

I had some problems with my previous family doctor but this new one I got at the moment I am really happy with.
Regards Dr A!

Cinnamon Girl said...

Wow as someone in the medical insurance side of things and a former CNA and CMA from my youth, I know just how scary those stats are. Specialist are need for sure, but ya need someone to manage the whole patient and GET them to a specialist if they need it. Keep rockin that stethoscope, Doc.

The Curmudgeon said...

I know there's a board certification in family practice -- but when I've run across them they are almost like medical brokers, directing patients to specialists as often as they provide any treatment.... Around here men wind up with internists, women with OB-GYN's, and the kids stay with the pediatrician as long as they (the pediatrician) can stand it. Is that cause or effect of the trend you're describing?

Dr. A said...

There has been a lot of debate about how and why the medical specialties have blossomed and the generalists are facing shortages.

The easiest way to explain to people is payment. Specialists get paid more than family docs. Medical students say, "Show me the money," and that's where they go. I don't blame them. Current data estimates school loan debt following college and/or graduate school and/or medical school north of $100K. Why not pick a specialty where you paid off your debts sooner?

There's also a subtle cultural effect happening. On local health news reports, I hate it when they say, "If any questions, ask your pediatrician," or, "If any questions, ask your gynecologist." Yes, this is true, but family docs know about this, too.

There have been many studies done which state that family docs perform cheaper health care with similiar or better health care quality than specialists. Not that specialists are bad docs, but family docs can manage a lot more than people think. For continuity of care, would it be better for you and your family to have care from one doc than many?

I could be on my soap box all day on this. Hope I answered your question.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for family docs and go to such a practice. My younger daughter never went to a ped, but to a family doc and people sneered. Incidentally, i remember house calls! So i am old!

Mother Jones RN said...

A shortage of family physicians, and a shortage of nurses. My, that's a rosy picture. Good family docs are worth their weight in gold, so let's pay them what they're worth.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's a question of "Lets pay them what the're worth" as much as it is a fact that Medicare, medicaid and third party ins. do NOT pay family docs what they are worth.

In fact, instead of paying them more I think they keep cutting their reimbusments. My goodness, they have to see a patient about every 10 minutes to make any money.

So where is the answer to this problem?

HP said...

From a personal viewpoint a good family doctor is essential and the most important person in my family healthcare. Specialists look after only their specific area - who else can we rely on to have their eye on the bigger picture?

Liana said...

Dr. A,

I bow down to you on your soapbox.

There is good news in Canada though... the number of med students going into family medicine each year has been increasing over the past few years.

So why did I go into family medicine instead of a "specialty" (speaking of which, I think family med should be considered a specialty in its own right... not everyone can know something about almost everything). Lifestyle (I don't like being on call 1/4), variety (obs, emerg, palliative care, sports med, geriatrics, minor surgery, you name it), and flexibility (I'll be my own boss).

And you know what? The family docs I work with bill over $275,000 a year. It's not like I'll be starving.

Keep it coming, Dr. A.