The Association of American Medical Colleges projects that the U.S. could have a shortage of up to 120 thousand doctors by 2030.
A looming doctor shortage prompted a Los Angeles health care plan to launch an innovative program to get more doctors.
L.A. projects that it will be short 88 hundred physicians in 12 years.
John Baackes knew he had to do something.
John Baackes, the CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan, says, “You either move the people to the doctors or you put some doctors where the people are, and we’re attempting to do the latter.”
He got his board to give five percent of L.A. Care’s reserve, about 31 million dollars, for a three-pronged attack on the doctor shortage.
Acknowledging that medical school costs push students with huge debt into specialties that pay more, L.A. Care gave eight students full-ride scholarships and recently added eight more. All are minorities wanting to give back.
Parris Diaz, a medical student says,”I definitely want to work in underserved communities, that’s the place I came from. My family still lives in South-Central L.A., suffering from the different disparities that exist.”
Nguyen Pham, a medical student at UCLA says, “It’s really personal in a sense that it’s what my parents, my parents right now even suffer through. I’m going to school to become a good doctor and potentially a community advocate.”
Second, L.A. Care’s loan recruitment program will repay new physician debt up to 180 thousand dollars if the doctor continues to serve in the safety net for three years.
Third, network clinics get grants of 125 thousand dollars for each new doctor recruited.
Baackes says the program has already had an impact because 32 new primary care doctors and clinics have applied.
“The payoff is a long way off, but we figure we’ve got to devote a portion of these resources to that as well,” Baackes continues.
Baackes hopes his board will make the same 31 million dollar commitment to “elevating the safety net” for the next five years.
That would mean 40 more medical school scholarships and placement of up to 400 doctors.