Bill Proposes Medical Education Reform

A bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives seeks to increase the number of Medicare-supported residency training positions, as well as establish transparency and accountability measures in resident training.

The number of residency positions available is a big concern considering medical schools are on target to increase enrollment by 30% by 2016. However, a new bill in the House seeks to help.

The “Physician Shortage Reduction and Graduate Medical Education Accountability and Transparency Act” introduced by Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) would expand Medicare-supported residency training positions by 15,000.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the proposal also would establish transparency and accountability measures to demonstrate how resident training programs address priorities for improving patient care.

“The new residency positions created by this legislation, along with the thoughtful approach to achieving transparency and accountability for graduate medical education, represent the beginning of a comprehensive strategy to make sure Americans have access to the care they need,” Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., AAMC president and CEO, said in a statement.

That enrollment increase goal was set by AAMC to address the physician shortage. In May, AAMC reported that medical school enrollment was on track to meet that goal, but Kirch expressed worry about residency positions.

According to Kirch back at the beginning of May 2012, the increased growth in enrollment to meet the physician shortage “won’t amount to a single new doctor in practice without an expansion of residency positions.”

According to AAMC estimates, the physician shortages will grow to more than 130,000 by 2025, which means more U.S.-trained physicians and more residency positions are necessary.

“The significant shortfall in trained doctors and medical professionals will only continue to grow if we don’t begin to address the problem now,” Schock said in a statement. “The primary way our country can address the physician shortage is by ensuring we increase the number of graduate medical education slots. By doing so, we are increasing the number of medical school graduates who will receive hands-on training in a patient setting and gain the experience needed to become a practicing physician.”

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