The doctor shortage might be bigger in Texas, but the Lone Star State is hardly alone - what lessons can be drawn from Texas' long-running battle to boost physician access in medically underserved areas?
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon trained at the Baylor College of Medicine to understand why Texas is eager to eliminate a nagging physician shortage. The state’s population is soaring, and a significant segment of its medical workforce, already numerically inadequate, is approaching retirement.
When it comes to grasping why the problem has been so tough to solve, however, there is a health-care professional whose expertise might come in handy: an epidemiologist. A review of Texas’ ongoing struggle suggests that medical scarcity is the public-policy equivalent of a mutating virus: Because of its ability to change form, the state’s physician shortage has been able to stay one step ahead of would-be “cures.” In fact, in at least one instance, Texas policymakers devised and implemented a supposed remedy — an aggressive expansion of medical-school enrollments — only to learn later that their efforts had exacerbated the problem. In nonmedical terms, Texas’ doctor deficit has proved to be the quintessential moving target. Through five decades of oil booms and recessions, space races and tech bubbles, championships and natural disasters, state officials have, at times, found ways to ease the shortage, but they’ve never been able to get rid of it altogether.
The rest of the country should take note. Although no two states face identical challenges in the health-care arena, practitioners, policymakers and medical educators from coast to coast could draw valuable lessons from Texas’ experience, especially since physician shortages are, by all accounts, a looming national crisis. Read our latest whitepaper here.... http://harrisandassociates.com/web/pdf/Texas_Physican_Shortage_Takeaways_9-7_428.pdf