Friday, July 13, 2007

Help Wanted: Doctors and Nurses

Help Wanted: Doctors and Nurses

The federal government is projecting a shortage of one million nurses and 24,000 doctors in the U.S. by 2020, but the PwC report "What Works: Healing the Healthcare Staffing Shortage" asserts that these projections are built around a broken, dysfunctional medical workforce model. It calls for major changes in the way doctors and nurses are trained, formation of public-private partnerships to promote and redeploy physician and nursing programs and new thinking about how, where and by whom health care will be delivered in the future.

International recruitment has been filling the gaps in the U.S. medical workforce. In 2005, approximately 13 percent of all new licensed nurses in the U.S. and 25 percent of all practicing physicians were international recruits.


Most of us are grateful to have a nurse or doctor make a loved one comfortable and sometimes to even save a loved one's life. It does not matter whether or not the nurse or doctor is a trained American or international recruit.

But you have to wonder why America does not provide enough trained nurses and doctors at American schools. Why are there not enough seats for the student nurses and doctors at accredited American universities? It seems that incentives may be necessary to encourage the training of nurses and doctors across America. We all need doctors and nurses at one time or another, and some of us need them more than others.

There also seems to be disincentives for doctors and nurses to remain on the job in serving patient intensive jobs such as in those in hospitals, for example. Burnout needs to be addressed. Quality of life needs to be addressed for nurses for example such as forced overtime, and exhaustive workloads. Why do so many hospitals have high turnover of their nursing staff? Too many doctors leave their profession before traditional retirement age.

A problem not mentioned in the article is that even with health insurance, such as HMO, a patient may not have a certified specialist available within the plan. Maybe this will be solved with national healthcare reform or maybe the supply of specialists should be increased.

I do not know how reliable the supply for foreign trained doctors and nurses are for America. The middle and upper class are rising in the third world maybe providing future incentives for them to remain in or return to their home countries sooner or later.

American healthcare should be independent rather than dependent on foreign labor. America should fulfill its needs by training Americans in American schools in the healthcare professions, improving working conditions of the professionals on the job, and providing incentives for people to enter the profession and remain in it.