Amanda Xi, Medical Student, 02:12PM Jul 28, 2013
A recent New England Journal of Medicine perspective piece entitled, “The Residency Mismatch” sheds light on the ~30% increase in medical student enrollment by the 2016-2017 academic year, but the disproportionate addition of residency spots. The main limiting factor to increasing residency positions is funding for Graduate Medical Education (GME). Although I understand that our economy is still recovering from a bumpy couple of years, as a medical student that is less than two years away from trying to enter the match process, I am concerned. Will there be enough spots for our class to successfully match into? How many more individuals this year will be left unmatched and scrambling to secure an alternative position?
Although I reside in a state that tends to have a relatively high ratio of GME positions to medical graduates, there has been a flurry of activity in the realm of creating new undergraduate medical institutions. My school (OUWB) was the first medical school to open since the last legacy school many decades ago, however, two additional medical schools are opening their doors in the subsequent few years. Prior to the opening of OUWB, the state already had 4 medical schools – within the next decade, we will have 3 additional medical schools and hundreds of additional medical graduates. As a Michigan-native, I would be happy to remain in the state for residency training; however, my concern is growing over how feasible this will be in the coming years.
Healthcare policy affects medical students, yet, many of us feel powerless to do anything about it. A couple years back, I went to Washington D.C. to lobby with the American College of Physicians (ACP) and wondered if this was our only way of trying to sway the government to maintain GME funding. Although there was definitely an associated adrenaline rush with meeting federal legislators, after the event concluded, I wondered how many of an impact our 15-minute meeting really had. Sometimes, I struggle to read up on healthcare policies to understand what certain bills or proposals will have on my career as a medical professional, but the attempt always ends in exasperation over how complex the system is.
Perhaps our medical curriculum should include more on healthcare policy and how medical professionals can make a positive impact on legislation. It would seem that because medical professionals play a vital role within our community that our voices and concerns would carry on to policymakers, but I’m starting to understand that we need to be proactive in order to realize change.