Minnesota doctors undertake ‘big resignation’

WASHINGTON — While a nationwide shortage of nurses has been well documented, there’s also another looming health care crisis that’s less well known — the projected shortage of doctors in Minnesota and most of the United States.

Dr. Randy Rice, a family medicine specialist in Moose Lake and president of the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA), is among the doctors considering early retirement.

He said increased health insurer bureaucracy, the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, and medical practice consolidations have led to burnout and loss of autonomy that is driving doctors out of their practices.

“It’s definitely a lot different now than it was when I started training,” the 61-year-old Rice said.

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The American Medical Association says the United States faces a projected shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 doctors within 12 years. The impact of the “great resignation of medicine” will soon be felt, according to a Mayo Clinic study. He polled 20,000 respondents at 124 facilities across the country and found that one in five physicians planned to quit medicine altogether and one in three physicians planned to cut their hours.

“As a rural family physician, I have witnessed dimensions of burnout, including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and loss of personal fulfillment, up close – with my colleagues and in the mirror every morning,” Rice wrote in an opinion piece for the MMA Newsletter. .

He told MinnPost that many doctors have lost their will to work long hours and make other sacrifices.

“A lot of them feel like they’re hitting the clock,” Rice said.

Even before the pandemic, health workers were experiencing high levels of burnout, and Rice had begun to consider pushing back her retirement date.

While many doctors considering leaving their practices are older, many are well past retirement age, Rice said.

Minnesota is blessed with more doctors per capita than most other states. Based on analysis of Bureau of Labor statistics and information from the Health Resources and Service Administration, Sterling Price of Value Penguin determined that Minnesota has more physicians per population than most other states. Only South Dakota and Massachusetts have more doctors per capita.

According to Sterling, Minnesota has nearly 34 doctors per 1,000 people. But these doctors are heavily concentrated in certain cities, urban neighborhoods and suburban areas of the state. And the medical resignation will affect all of Minnesota as well as the rest of the nation.

“It will be harder for people to get appointments, harder for people to get the care they need, and forcing people to drive longer to get to their appointments,” he said. said Rice.

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But Rice said doctor shortages will be felt the hardest in rural areas, like the one he serves in Moose Lake.

“One in three rural physicians say they intend to leave their profession in the next five years,” said a recent report on health care worker shortages by the Minnesota Department of Public Health.

Low-income urban neighborhoods, which are already medically underserved, will also face shortages, Rice said.

The types of physicians that will be the rarest are likely to be general practitioners and psychologists.

Sterling predicted Minnesota will suffer a 34% shortage of primary care physicians. And the MDH report says the largest vacancies right now are in mental health and addictions “where one in four jobs are currently vacant and open for hire.”

In fact, the Minnesota Department of Public Health said that already “providers are seeing labor shortages across Minnesota.”

The MDH study cited several recommendations to stem health worker burnout in the state, including implementing a school loan forgiveness program for health care providers and pressure on hospitals and other employers to make healthcare jobs “safe, flexible, well-paying and family-friendly.”

Other solutions include establishing “rural clinical training pathways” to create a pipeline of trained primary care physicians and psychiatrists in greater Minnesota and new funding for mental health providers to pay for the supervised training that they must complete before obtaining a license to practice.

Meanwhile, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), medical school enrollment across the country has increased, but by only a few percentage points, in recent years. The AAMC said graduate school enrollment stood at 95,475 for the 2021-2022 school year.

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In Minnesota, graduate medical school enrollment was nearly flat with a combined total of about 1,500 students at the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine over the past two school years.

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