American Medical Association Works To Strengthen The Physician Workforce To Best Meet Nation's Health Care Needs

The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted this week at its Annual Meeting new policies to strengthen the physician workforce to meet the nation’s growing health care needs. The AMA will work on workforce diversity, gender equity and physician re-entry.

In a continued commitment to promoting workforce diversity, the AMA voted to advocate for programs that will help prepare high school and college students for medical school and for adequate funding for federal and state programs that promote practicing in underserved communities. The AMA will also encourage the development of a centralized database of scholarship and loan repayment programs. 

“Minority representation in medical schools has remained low over the past several years,” said AMA Board Member Ardis D. Hoven, M.D. “African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and American Indians make up nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, but only seven percent of physicians are from one of these underrepresented groups. We need to increase the ranks of minority physicians so that the physician workforce more accurately represents the diversity of America’s patients.”

Gender equity among physicians is also important to a strong, diverse workforce of qualified physicians. The AMA will work to help women physicians make informed decisions about balancing the demands of family, personal obligations, and professional life, and will encourage mentoring among women in medicine. The new policy also urges medical schools, hospitals and group practices to institute and monitor transparency in pay levels in order to identify and eliminate gender bias and promote gender equity.

“Gender disparities in medicine can be attributed to a certain degree to gender differences in specialty choice, age or life style choices, but evidence suggest that gender bias and discrimination continue to exist in medicine, resulting in career advancement barriers for women,” said Dr. Hoven.

When physicians voluntarily take an extended period of time off from work, it is crucial that they are proficient and competent in the current clinical procedures to provide care to patients. New policy calls on the AMA to collaboratively develop re-entry programs and address the educational needs of physicians re-entering clinical practice after an extended period of voluntary clinical inactivity.

“A well-designed re-entry program allows physicians who have been away from clinical practice a means to return to work while ensuring that physicians are current and proficient in their practice area,” said Dr. Hoven.

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