Blog | Monday, November 28, 2011

Advocate to preserve residency funding despite 'supercommittee' failure


So, you have probably heard about the supercommittee (gang of 12) and the need to brace for massive cuts to control federal spending. But, do you know that the chief target is residency training? That is right. Funding for residency largely comes from Medicare, and the general concern is that they are paying too much and not getting their money's worth.

Of course, this comes at a time when there is a shortage of residency spots given the expansion of U.S. medical schools, and a dire need for physicians, especially in primary care, to meet the needs of health care reform.

So, in this perfect storm, 40 medical groups (yes, there was that much consensus) sent a letter to the supercommittee pleading with them not to cut Graduate Medical Education funding. Now the situation is dire enough that the Association of American Medical Colleges advocacy leaders are in high gear encouraging those in graduate medical education to encourage their residents to write to their Congressman. (And yes, if you live in a supercommittee state, it's even more important for you to do this).

So if you are a resident or future resident or can sympathize with the need to have future physicians, now is the time to take action. For my fellow medical educators out there, you don't need to be left out. The American College of Physicians has a very broad (don't need to be an internist) easy-to-use advocacy website to shoot of a quick note to your Representative and Senator about the need to preserve GME funding.

Medical educators have actually started a dialogue about the role of advocacy in medical education. Specifically, the Editor of Academic Medicine has challenged us to come up with how advocacy should properly be integrated into medical training. I can think of no other way than advocating for preserving funding for the system by which we train our nation's future physicians.

Vineet Arora, MD, FACP

(AAMC e-mail encouraging residents to take action)

Dear Resident:

I encourage you to take a few minutes to visit the AAMC Legislative Action Center (http://capwiz.com/aamc/home/), select "Residents", and send an electronic letter opposing cuts in Medicare funds that support residency programs. With the zip code you enter, the letter will be sent automatically to your Senators and Representatives urging them to oppose GME cuts as part of deficit reduction. PLEASE USE YOUR PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS (eg, gmail.com), AND NOT YOUR INSTITUTIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS.

Congress is discussing a deficit reduction proposal that would cut funding by as much as 60%, or $60 billion, for Graduate Medical Education (GME) and jeopardize residency training programs across the country. Given the current and growing shortage of physicians, GME cuts will reduce access to health care and threaten the well-being of all Americans.

It is most important that residents enrolled in programs in Arizona, California, Washington State, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Montana, Michigan, Maryland, Texas, or South Carolina, voice your concerns. You are represented by members of the "Super Committee" that will finalize the deficit reduction plan.

Thank you for your help.

Atul Grover, M.D.
Chief Advocacy Officer
AAMC

Vineet Arora, MD, is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. She is Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency and Assistant Dean of Scholarship & Discovery at the Pritzker School of Medicine for the University of Chicago. Her education and research focus is on resident duty hours, patient handoffs, medical professionalism, and quality of hospital care. She is also an academic hospitalist, supervising internal medicine residents and students caring for general medicine patients, and serves as a career advisor and mentor for several medical students and residents, and directs the NIH-sponsored Training Early Achievers for Careers in Health (TEACH) Research program, which prepares and inspires talented diverse Chicago high school students to enter medical research careers. This post originally appeared on her blog, FutureDocs.