A real medical emergency

More residency slots will help state's desperate need for doctors

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New figures show Georgia continues to be one of the fastest-growing states in the nation.

Old figures show we don’t have enough doctors for them all.

A new Census report puts Georgia’s growth at fourth in the nation in terms of people added (128,000) from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011 – a growth rate of 1.32 percent, which is 10th in the nation.

The challenge will be to find enough doctors for them, and for future growth.

It’s a problem nationwide. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a national shortage of more than 90,000 physicians in the next decade. But it’s the high-growth states that the shortage will hit hardest.

And while the state’s medical college – Georgia Health Sciences University – is adding slots as fast as it can, Georgia slipped recently in the State Physician Data Book from the Association of American Medical Colleges from 40th to 41st in the number of active physicians per 100,000 people.

But in truth, it doesn’t matter if you educate a million doctors: Unless they have somewhere to train – most doctors must complete up to three years’ “residency” (working in hospital settings) – they will leave the state for greener pastures.

So while we educate more doctors, we also must be opening up more slots for them to train. If we do, it will benefit Georgia for decades to come: Statistics show that if medical students graduate and do a residency in the same state, 70 percent of the time they’ll stay there.

Thus, even as times are tight, we implore Gov. Nathan Deal and the legislature to approve the University System of Georgia Board of Regents’ $1.2 million request to add 400 residency positions across the state. The funding would be used to assist hospitals with startup costs in opening up the new residency slots.

We can’t think of a better use of funds. Training new doctors for the coming decades of population growth in Georgia should be among the state’s highest priorities. It will save lives, enhance the quality of those lives, and provide for a better health-care network for our children and grandchildren.

It’s not an expenditure. It’s an investment – and in the most important thing we can invest in: our health.

It’s also something we need to do for ourselves and future Georgians. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently allocated funding for 1,354 residency slots – and totally bypassed Georgia, despite its glaring need.

Here again, we call on our leaders to take heed: The entire weight of Georgia’s congressional delegation must do whatever it can to get the residency slots this large and growing state deserves.

There are few things as important.

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Riverman1
83931
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Riverman1 12/28/11 - 08:53 am
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I am glad to see the

I am glad to see the Chronicle finally picking up on this point I have been explaining for a couple of years. Instate training of residents is how you keep physicians in Georgia.

Let me explain the problem that goes along with this fact and the local aspect. Physicians associated with hospitals in the state do not want to train residents who may stay there after their training is complete.

University Hospital has paid lip service to training more residents for decades, yet continuously finds ways to derail resident training programs.

Recently, the new administrators have made some inroads into taking control of University away from the wealthy physicians by hiring them directly and it's about time.

Remember this is actually a county owned hospital generating hundreds of millions in revenue. Don't get fooled by the foundation aspect. They are making millions.

When you have more specialists, the best thrive and costs are competitive. That's what Georgia and the community deserve. The best physicians at competitive prices while the hospitals actually turn a profit for the community and not private groups.

A county owned hospital near Augusta in a much poorer county makes about $100 million a year that it gives to the county. Wake up folks.

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 12/28/11 - 08:40 am
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No need to worry,hussein and

No need to worry,hussein and the tzars will save us all! mmm mmm obama!

Riverman1
83931
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Riverman1 12/28/11 - 09:42 am
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This editorial is pleasantly

This editorial is pleasantly surprising. In the past the Chronicle has examined such issues, the finances and administration of hospitals with the insight of a nursing assistant emptying bedpans.

soldout
1280
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soldout 12/28/11 - 10:46 am
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Having more doctors is fine

Having more doctors is fine but does not have a relationship to health but a relationship to how fast you are treated. We spend more per person on medical expense than anywhere in the world but are 37th or so in length of life. As you look around, those with the most medical problem are taking the most drugs. Your first thought is that makes perfect sense but maybe it is because those taking the most drugs are becoming sicker and sicker and creating a need for more drugs. One study showed that those who get a physical each year die sooner and are sicker than those who do not. That makes sense since the body is almost always in the process of fixing something and if you get a physical in the middle of that process you are likely to start taking a drug that may create side-effects and other problems. That is when you start a downhill drug dependent ride. Just drinking more water, sunshine without sunscrfeen, some exercise and less sugar would probably eliminate the need for 50% of the doctors. NAET would problem eliminate 70% of the other 50%. To be healthy you don't have to read a lot of information or go to lots of doctors. Just find a healthy person and do what they do.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 12/28/11 - 03:30 pm
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Once Phase 2 of obamacare is

Once Phase 2 of obamacare is fully implemented and your average person can run to the doctor for a splinter or the sniffles on the taxpayer dime, you will need about 50 times more doctors than we currently have.

Plus, to really fix the medical system and make doctors want to stay in practice, you must have tort reform. Being forced to spend over $100,000 per year for medical malpractice insurance sure cuts into your earnings.

Riverman1
83931
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Riverman1 12/28/11 - 03:50 pm
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Notice, there are zero

Notice, there are zero challenges to what I posted above. I do know what I'm talking about.

socks99
250
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socks99 12/28/11 - 05:26 pm
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This editorial would be more

This editorial would be more compelling if you:

Document the number of residencies that go unfilled in GA.
Discuss the need for more GP's v. more specialists.
Ask whether or not physicians who are highly trained might opt for 'greener pastures' even if they do residencies here?
Ask whether or not current training is too dependent on:
A. Big pharma inputs that 'train' physicians to practice while maximizing prescriptions and the costs of same;
B. Including in training a mini-course on practicing with the highest possible overhead, and maximizing reimbursement rates.

Finally, how cost-effective, are newer satellite programs v. older established programs; will those costs change over time or was the need for 'more physicians' simply a cynical bid by the Regent's to capture even more of the state budget?

PS: RM, a good reason for not challenging your comments would be the fact that the status quo is not at all threatened by comments in a newspaper.

sgachief
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sgachief 12/28/11 - 08:22 pm
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I will challenge rm to post

I will challenge rm to post the name of the hospital he referenced. all the ones in surrounding counties are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Riverman1
83931
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Riverman1 12/28/11 - 08:49 pm
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SGAChief, I said $100 million

SGAChief, I said $100 million a year and that was a misstatement. They turn over approximately $20 million a year back to the county. A private company offerred the county $100 million for the hospital which was turned down. The per capita income of the SC county is $15,000 and the population of the county is 91,000, 60% black. My first cousin is a long term county council member there and he is the one who gave me the details of the money the county receives from the hospital and the offer to buy it. It borders on a county that is part of the Augusta metro statistical area.

Riverman1
83931
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Riverman1 12/28/11 - 09:00 pm
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Socks said, "RM, a good

Socks said, "RM, a good reason for not challenging your comments would be the fact that the status quo is not at all threatened by comments in a newspaper."

Socks, I can only do what I can. Ya know?

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