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U.S. Needs More Physicians Soon, but How Many More Is Debatable

Jennifer Fisher Wilson
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.

Ann Intern Med. 2005;143(6):469-472. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-143-6-200509200-00020
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When Richard A. Cooper, MD, first starting investigating the question of how many physicians the United States needed in its work force, the common wisdom of the early 1990s held that the country was facing a major physician surplus. The surplus would push down physician salaries and leave some searching for employment. But as Cooper spent more time studying the numbers of graduates from U.S. medical schools and residents in training, he determined a completely different future: The United States instead faced a looming shortage that threatened to overtax and weaken the health care system by the early 21st century. Cooper first published his findings in a medical journal in 1994, and the controversy that he fueled continues to this day (1).

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Alarm from an osteopath internist
Posted on September 20, 2005
Christine M Lindgren
Iowa Veterans Home
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

I am concerned that the journal Annals of Internal Medicine prints an editorial opinion in stark opposition to its qualifications for membership. I am an "osteopath", and I am certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, having successfully completed an "allopathic" internal medicine residency. I have been a dues-paying member of ACP for 5 years. As the medical director of a 710 bed long-term care facility for Iowa's veterans I find that the medical school a doctor attended is far less important than the residency training, and even less important than the character of the physician who practices. I am disappointed in the organization to which I belong and which I have depended on to uphold standards of excellent medical care and lack of prejudice and discrimination. I am concerned for Ms Wilson's motives in dividing medicine the way she has and her definitions of 'doctor' and 'medicine'. Perhaps she needs to broaden her circle of medical influence.

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None declared

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