Graduate medical education program addressing physician shortage

The Wisconsin Hospital Association says the state’s expanded graduate medical education program is making strides toward addressing an ongoing physician shortage, based on new state data.

According to WHA, this statewide issue will worsen significantly in the next decade. By 2030, the state’s over-65 population is expected to double, so physicians will be in high demand. And nearly 400 Wisconsin doctors leave the practice or reduce their hours every year, WHA says.

“The competition nationally to recruit physicians is fierce,” says Chuck Shabino, WHA chief medical officer. “Wisconsin is consistently recognized for its high-quality, high-value health care… so when other states are scouting for physicians, it’s not surprising they look to Wisconsin.”

Based on a 2011 study from WHA, Wisconsin will experience a shortfall of 2,000 physicians by 2030. At the time, the group recommended increasing the number of state-based GME programs.

That call for action was answered in 2013 with a $13 million grant program enacted with support from Gov. Scott Walker and both sides of the Legislature, WHA says. That program has led to the creation of 10 new GME programs in Wisconsin, and the expansion of nine more.

Using new information from the Department of Health Services, WHA estimates up to 133 additional physicians will be enrolled in Wisconsin residency programs by July 2020.

“The bottom line is more medical students completing their graduate training in Wisconsin means more physicians practicing in Wisconsin, and in critically needed specialties,” said Eric Borgerding, WHA president and CEO.

That idea is supported by the same 2011 WHA study, which said if a medical student is from Wisconsin, attends medical school in the state, and completes their residency training in Wisconsin, there is an 86 percent chance they will stay in Wisconsin to practice medicine.

“We know we can keep about 70 percent of the physicians — regardless of where they grew up — who attend Wisconsin medical school and complete an in-state residency,” says Shabino. “Where a physician completes a residency is the best predictor of where they will establish a practice.”

See a 2016 report on this issue from the Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce:

–By Alex Moe