Thursday, March 28, 2013

Medical Specialty Residents Are Left Stranded, Programs and Jobs Gone

My opinion: Though there is certainly a need for more doctors in the specialties, they are sometimes cut out of the system.  With the doctor shortage I don't think anyone can afford this, yet ironically, some hospitals consider them too expensive to afford.  In order to fix this, we need to look at the causes to infer possible solutions.  For many years I used to think that advancements in technology could replace radiologists (who don't perform surgery).  What if computers begin to analyze screenings for us, and only a few radiologists check the results?  Though it might be possible for robots to perform surgery, I imagine it would be more difficult to create them and for the public to accept this kind of surgery.  Can technology help doctors more than hurt them?  Also, many people seek foreign medical care for cost reasons - how should costs be lowered?  Maybe medical tech companies and pharma could be forced to lower their prices, and docs to take some salary cuts.  But is this even necessary?  How much money is in the general hospital system, anyway?  Perhaps there are too many medical administrators in the hospital system, like with colleges or universities.  Finally, by increasing the number of doctors, economics suggest that the overall cost of healthcare could go down.  So since there is a demand for more doctors, then there might be more money poured into hospitals.  What if hospitals could stay afloat by doing nothing more but letting more doctors in?  Needless to say, these are a lot of points to consider - but the last point, if correct, is probably the best solution as it is the most simple.  Feel free to share your thoughts!

For years, medical students who chose a residency in radiology were said to be on the ROAD to happiness. The acronym highlighted the specialties — radiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology and dermatology — said to promise the best lifestyle for doctors, including the most money for the least grueling work.
Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
A dozen radiologists in training at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx received termination notices because the hospital is ending their residency program.
Not anymore. Radiologists still make twice as much as family doctors, but are high on the list of specialists whose incomes are in steepest decline. Recent radiology graduates with huge medical school debts are having trouble finding work, let alone the $400,000-and-up dream jobs that beckoned as they signed on for five to seven years of relatively low-paid labor as trainees. On Internet forums, younger radiology residents agonize about whether it is too late to switch tracks.
At St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, a dozen radiologists in training, including Dr. Luke Gerges, 28, are suddenly stranded on an expensive road to nowhere. All received termination notices recently because their hospital is ending their residency program next year as part of a plan to replace its radiologists with a teleradiology company that reads diagnostic images remotely.
“Those days of raking in the dough with radiology are gone,” said Dr. Gerges, who is four years beyond medical school and $300,000 in debt. He said he chose a specialty he loves without caring that big salaries were waning, but never imagined it would be this hard to finish his postgraduate training and get a job.
“No one is going to hire me to be a radiologist without my training,” he said.

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