HomeHealthBlack doctors are calling for a 'broken' system for healthcare professionals

Black doctors are calling for a ‘broken’ system for healthcare professionals

A doctor holds a boy’s hand in a hospital bed. (Getty Images)

Black medical professionals are being courted by the Senate to help fill the gaps caused by a health care workforce shortage that is expected to leave the U.S. with more than 100,000 fewer doctors over the next decade.

But Black physicians point to key deterrents to entering and staying in the industry, including a “broken” system that perpetuates mounting debt, unfair compensation, lack of investment in Black medical students and the mistreatment of medical professionals during the height of the crisis. Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our system is broken and we, as primary care physicians, are not fairly compensated for the time we spend saving lives while sacrificing our own well-being,” Samuel Cook, a primary care physician at Morehouse School of Medicine, said during a roundtable discussion led by by Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. at the school in Atlanta.

“For far too long, we have fallen through the cracks of a healthcare system that blatantly and openly abuses our binding investments in this area, and it is high time that our plight is heard, appreciated and acted upon,” Cook said. continued.

What is the crisis?

A doctor squats on the floor of a hospital. A doctor squats on the floor of a hospital.

A doctor squats on the floor of a hospital. (Getty Images)

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), there will be an estimated physician shortage of as many as 124,000 physicians by 2034. Demand for physicians is expected to exceed physician placement due to the aging of the U.S. population.

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A 2022 report from Definitive Healthcare, a healthcare data and analytics company, found that approximately 230,000 healthcare professionals – physicians, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and licensed clinical social workers – left the industry in the fourth quarter of 2021 have left.

Medical professionals say the mental, physical and emotional burnout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused workers to leave the profession to avoid the risk of unknown dangers of an unprecedented medical crisis.

“Hospital managers treated RNs and other hospital staff as expendable during the pandemic. They didn’t care if we lived or died, refused to provide life-saving PPE until forced to do so, and now they wonder why nurses fled the bed.” Deborah Burger, a registered nurse and president of National Nurses United, said in a statement to Yahoo News.

Surveys predict that approximately 47% of healthcare workers will leave their jobs by 2025. Sanders is trying to address concerns that the U.S. may not be ready for another pandemic because of the deficit.

“We don’t have the public health infrastructure we need on a state-by-state basis. We certainly don’t have the doctors and nurses we need,” Sanders said during the roundtable. “So what we’re trying to do now is create legislation that will create more doctors, more nurses and more dentists.”

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What is the difference between black doctors?

A patient is vaccinated during a doctor's appointment.A patient is vaccinated during a doctor's appointment.

A patient is vaccinated during a doctor’s appointment. (Getty Images)

Currently, Black physicians make up only 5.7% of physicians in the US

The AAMC says one reason for the lack of black physicians can be traced back to the 1910 Flexner Report, commissioned by the American Medical Association and the Carnegie Foundation to establish a gold standard for medical education. The report caused more than half of America’s medical schools to close in the early 20th century. This included five of the seven historically black medical schools.

“The shortage is especially acute in rural and medically underserved communities, where access to quality health care is often limited,” Jeannette E. South-Paul, executive vice president and provost of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, told Sanders during her testimony.

Meharry Medical College is one of only four historically black medical schools. According to the AAMC, HBCUs make up less than 3% of all MD degree-granting institutions, but have siphoned off more than half of all Black graduates from the medical field.

The pandemic has also exposed chronic health care disparities in minority communities, such as access to medical treatment and premature deaths due to pre-existing conditions, which place a disproportionate burden on Black and brown communities.

“HBCU medical schools are uniquely positioned to address this shortage given our longstanding commitment to educating healthcare professionals from diverse backgrounds who are committed to serving in these underserved areas,” Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, president of Morehouse School of Medicine, told CNN.

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What is the solution?

Bernie Sanders.Bernie Sanders.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a news conference Wednesday. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Sanders has said more efforts are needed to attract diverse candidates to the medical profession by creating a pipeline from high school to college. But Black physicians and heads of Black medical schools want to ensure that Black medical professionals are set up for success.

Many schools have supported a bipartisan proposal from Congress, the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2023, which would increase the number of Medicare-funded residencies by 14,000 over seven years. School leaders support the plan.

Sanders has proposed canceling $1.6 trillion in student debt, which he says will “shrink the racial wealth gap for young Americans by more than half” and “free up doctors and nurses to work in communities most in need of healthcare.” need.”

Additionally, Congress’ “Pathway to Practice” proposal and the National Medical Corps Act grant programs would prioritize applications from HBCUs, Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI), and underserved communities.

AAMC also encourages increasing federal investments in MSIs to address the debt of students underrepresented in medicine and to expand medical schools.

“But the more than 150 other medical schools, in addition to our four historically black medical schools, also owe it to the country to increase the diversity of the students they train,” Rice emphasized, which would help address disparities in affected communities Reduce.

Healthcare professionals are also supporting efforts to alleviate burnout, an issue Congress sought to address with a 2022 law aimed at improving mental and behavioral health.

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