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Amid Fears of Doctors Shortage, More Students are Lured to Medical Career
2019-01-07 15:58:55
Oliver Smith

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In the photo: Medical practitioners / Photo by: SSgt.Derrick C.Goode, U.S.Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

Despite worries over a dearth in doctors in the US, Americans can still ask the help of doctors around the country--now and in the not so far future.

Casting a glimmer of hope to an otherwise looming shortage of doctors in America, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) announced recently that the number of licensed doctors in the US grew by 12 percent in the last six years, from 850,085 in 2010 to 953,695 in 2016.

Now, there are at least 295 licensed doctors for every 100,000 people, when there were only 277 licensed physicians to see them six years ago, according to the FSMB’s biennial census released late July.

The fastest growing segments are female physicians, doctors osteopathic medicine (DOs), and Caribbean medical school graduates.

FSMB said women now make up 34 percent of active licensed doctors, from 30 percent in 2010.

Doctors of Osteopathy, a relatively new branch of medical practice with emphasis on bones, joints, and muscles, grew in number by 39 percent from 2010, 65 percent from 2006, and a huge 276 percent from 1986.

FSMB said osteopathic medicine is “one of the fastest growing healthcare professions in the United States.”

The FSMB census said first year medical school enrollment in the US grew by 28 percent from 2002.There were 88,304 medical students enrolled in 2016, from 81,934 in 2012.

Yet, the FSMB, representing the US’ 70 medical and osteopathic boards, warned of a possible shortage in doctors due mainly to America’s growing and aging population.

But then, efforts are abound to save the nation from the impending crisis.  Medical schools are setting out programs aimed at luring interested young talents to the path of medical profession.

The Tufts University School of Medicine, for one, continues its Teachers and High School Students (TAHSS) program that began in 1989 to foster interest among grades 10-12 students in pursuing careers in science, medicine, and health.

During the five-week annual summer program, Tufts dental and medical school students give  the younger ones a peek  at medical school life by tutoring them in gross anatomy, physical diagnosis, and other aspects medicine.

“The students also spend up to 25 hours per week working with a faculty member in a clinic or science lab on an independent research project, which they present to family, friends, and faculty at the end of the program,” the medical school said in a press release, adding that Tufts admissions representatives also provide students information on college application process and financial aid. “Many future scientists, technicians, and physicians take biology in high school and want to learn more,” said Joyce Sackey, M.D., dean for multicultural affairs and global health at Tufts University School of Medicine.  

“TAHSS introduces students to the next couple of steps through mentoring and applied science.  Programs like TAHSS help prepare students for what they might experience in academic, clinical, and research settings, and help them to see the connection between the work we do and real life challenges facing their community.” The TAHSS program is open to all students, especially to those coming from poor communities and where there’s not enough doctors and scientists.

“This is a crucial time in America, when we need more doctors and medical scientists, who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially,” local media South Strand News quoted Richard Rossi, executive director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, as saying.  

The  National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists was chartered specifically to avert the medical crisis by identifying, encouraging, and mentoring students, who wish to become doctors and medical scientists.

The Academy offers free services and programs to students, who want to be physicians or go to into medical science.  Among those offered are online social networks, where the future doctors and medical scientists can communicate, mentoring from physicians and medical students, and communications for parents and students on college acceptance and finances, skills training, internships, and career guidance.

Meanwhile in South Carolina, the Carolina Orthopaedics, Carolina Coast Surgery Center and Ati Physical Therapy are on the second year of jointly offering an annual summer Medical Mentoring Program for high school students.Last summer, they gave shadow training to 55 students from 10 high schools in nearby Georgetown and Horry counties.The 11-week program is designed to provide students with firsthand experience in the medical field, including professional mentoring and guidance, as they make decisions on their future career.It is open to Georgetown and Horry county schools’ top juniors and seniors with interest in the medical field.

This year, the program included physicians in clinics, registered nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, radiologists, registered nurses, surgery technicians, and anesthesiologists.

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