Are there enough doctors?

According to this article, the largest concentration of doctors in the United States is right here in Massachusetts.  So then why am I having so much trouble finding one I like?

Keep in mind, this is based on a per capita count, so it’s about how many doctors there are for every 100,000 residents and not on how many there are total.  Compared to the national average, good old Mass. is going great.  Of course, this doesn’t tell us how many of these doctors are specialists and how many are internists or family practitioners.  It also doesn’t tell us how many of them treat patients full time versus focusing on research.  For example, I have one doctor, a specialist, who does research most days and only sees patients two days a week.  How would he be counted?

But more than any of that, my big concern is that this article speaks about the distribution of doctors as if that were the biggest problem with getting a doctor.  Let’s forget about money, because that’s a different problem altogether.  What bothers me is the idea that if doctors were distributed more evenly, everything would automatically work out better.  But has anyone checked to see if there are enough doctors in this country?  Sure, Massachusetts has more doctors per capita than any other state, but does it have enough doctors?  Does it have the right type of doctors?  I called many potential PCPs this year and was told by each that they weren’t taking on new patients.  That’s in line with what I have been reading about PCP shortages.

Now, maybe I just called the wrong ones.  Maybe there’s a shortage.  Maybe that was a temporary problem that was magically fixed the next week.  Regardless, we need to figure out how many doctors, and what specialties, are needed in order to properly care for our population.  I agree that we need to have an even distribution of doctors, but that only works if there are enough.

 

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