Can We Skip Residency?

One of the concerns of those addressing rural workforce issues is residency programs for recent medical school graduates.  Finding a sufficient number of residency slots is always a challenge.  If there aren’t enough in your area, the students could leave the state – or even the country.

Since we know that doctors tend to practice in the same area where they were trained, it’s a constant challenge for those wanting to recruit in rural areas.

But what if we just skipped residency?

A new law in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma offered a first-of-its-kind solution to the physician shortage plaguing thousands of U.S. communities: Medical school graduates could start treating patients immediately, without wading through years of traditional residency programs.

Yet more than 18 months after that first law passed, Missouri regulators are still trying to make it work. And not a single new doctor has gone into practice in any of the three states as a result of the new laws.

Opposition abounds from every side.  Even some rural physicians, who could potentially benefit from the help, don’t like the Missouri law.

Dr. Tammy Hart is the only physician in Missouri’s Mercer Country along the Iowa border. She opens her office at 7 a.m. to walk-in patients with urgent needs and often ends up working on days off. But Hart views the new Missouri law as “a very poor answer” to the physician shortage.

“By no means are you ready to assume being a physician when you graduate from medical school,” she said.

But if skipping residency isn’t the solution; what is?

Medical Education Challenges

Recently AMA Wire published “9 challenges medical educators want to solve right now” which were the topics identified at a AMA event when participants were asked the question, “What does the medical school of the future look and feel like—and how do we get there?”

Identified challenges included, “New ways to make medical training more patient-centered” and “Strategies for increasing diversity in medical education.”

The diversity one made us wonder – what if diversity in medical education meant more than students with a variety of colors and creeds?  What if “diversity” included rural?  Rural students, rural training, rural cultural competency.

What are the rural medical education challenges you want to solve right now?

ICD-10 Is Here – Now What?

Just like the coming of Y2K, the world did not implode when ICD-10 went live on October 1, 2015.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any glitches.

At Head for the Hills 2015  Debbie Poston from AMS Software talked about the challenges physicians face in making sure office staff can document patient visits correctly in her presentation, ICD-10 Is Here – Now What?

Poston reviewed how those challenges can be used to increase communication within a medical practice and assure claims can be paid in a timely manner.

Use this presentation as a starting point for making sure all of your diagnostic work is being recorded correctly to the benefit of your patients, your staff, and your cash flow.


Anxious Kids

What’s the difference between fear and anxiety?  What level of anxiety in a child is normal? At what stage does it need to be addressed?  When is medication appropriate for a child with anxiety?

C. Allen Musil, Jr., MD’s presentation at Head for the Hills 2015 answered these questions and reviewed risk factors for anxiety disorders, different types of anxiety disorders, treatment approaches and more.

Check out Anxious Kids: A Primary Care Approach by Dr. Musil!