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Risk of doctor shortage increasing

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Updated: 11/08/2013 11:44 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s Select Committee on Healthcare Workforce Innovation is investigating the possibility of a doctor shortage over the next decade.

An Action News investigation earlier this year revealed Clay County is feeling the pressure, with an estimated one physician for every 694 patients. In Duval County, there is one physician for every 350 patients.

Those numbers could soon increase, due to growth.  Florida will soon become the third most populous state.  Most of those new-comers are more baby boomers, who are all searching for a doctor.

That's why Carol Baw has had trouble making an appointment recently.

“They told me it will take two months from now!”

Growth isn’t the only contributing factor to the possibly doctor shortage. The Department of Health said there are currently 56,000 registered doctors in the state, and 5,600 are expected to retire in the next five years. 

Some of them are retiring because of increased pressure.

A survey by the Florida Medical Association this week, revealed doctors are spending 20 hours a week on paperwork.  Increased government and insurance regulations are forcing them to cut back on time with patients.

The increase demand is creating a good opportunity for medical students. The state estimates another 228,000 doctors will be needed by 2030 to fill patient needs.

But Dr. Mobeen Rathore, President-Elect of the Duval County Medical Society, said getting future doctors to come here is difficult.

“There have been several new medical schools open up in the state of Florida. Unfortunately, that is not being matched being increased with graduate medical education positions, and residents and physicians who come out of training tend to practice where they get their training.”

Combined with the pressure of additional regulations and frustrations with reimbursement, future doctors may be choosing to practice in states where they can spend more time with patients.

“Spending time with patients is what we do best.”

State lawmakers have asked health industry leaders to gather updated numbers on the amount of doctors and patients, to determine if there is already a doctor shortage.

That report is exptected to be presented to lawmakers in January.
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