Academy of Graduate Medical Education

UCSF's Dracup to Serve on Independent Committee to Address Doctor Shortage, Health Needs of Baby Boomer Generation

Worsening physician shortages, an aging baby boomer population and expanding health insurance coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act have prompted the nation’s health policy experts to explore possible changes to the graduate medical education system.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, is convening a new ad hoc committee to conduct an independent review of the system and make recommendations on how to better produce a medical workforce for the 21st century.

Kathy Dracup, RN, PhD

Kathy Dracup, RN, PhD, dean emeritus of the UCSF School of Nursing, is one of 21 IOM members appointed to the Committee on Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education, which will hold its first meeting on September 4 in Washington, DC.

Dracup joins dozens of UCSF scientists and scholars who have served the nation by advising leaders on health policy and scientific research at national institutions.

At issue before the IOM committee is how federal funding, including more than $9 billion from Medicare last year, is spent on graduate medical education.

WHAT IS GRADUATE MEDICAL EDUCATION (GME)?

GME is the second phase of the formal educational process that prepares doctors for medical practice. It typically takes at least 11 years beyond high school to educate physicians before they will practice independently — four years for a bachelor’s degree, four years for medical school and three to seven years for residency (GME). Medical residents train at teaching hospitals such as UC academic medical centers, where they receive supervised, hands-on training in clinical specialties such as pediatrics or surgery. A residency can be followed by a fellowship, during which time a physician receives subspecialty training.

The review comes as the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of 45, 000 primary care physicians and 46, 000 surgeons and specialists by 2020. Medical schools have increased enrollments over the last six years, but the number of federally funded residency training positions has been frozen since 1997.

“We’re going to be looking at the data, at the health care needs of this country, ” Dracup said. “If the federal government is going to support the education of medical professionals, where should that money be distributed and how should it be distributed?”

Robert Baron, MD, MS

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