Rural Maryland Likely To Face Severe Physician Shortage by 2015, Report Finds

Rural areas in Maryland likely will experience severe shortages of physicians by 2015 as physicians begin to retire and younger physicians decide to practice elsewhere, according to a report by the Maryland Hospital Association and MedChi, the state’s medical society, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. According to the report, the shortage would have the greatest effect on crowded emergency departments that depend on medical specialists who work on call. Southern Maryland would face “critical shortages” in about 83% of 30 physician categories, followed by Western Maryland with 67% and the Eastern Shore with 60%, the report found.

The report included a number of legislative recommendations to address the situation, including increasing physician payments from insurers, overhauling the state’s medical malpractice system and creating a loan-forgiveness program to attract younger physicians to the state’s rural areas. Robert Barish, vice dean for clinical affairs at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chair of the report’s steering committee, said, “It’s very worrisome that only about 25% of our physicians are saying they want to stay here,” adding, “In part, the No. 1 factor among residents right now is they want to be close to home.” The report does not include cost estimates of any of the recommendations.

The report is being reviewed by two government panels that are working to develop recommendations to address the problem, the AP/Sun reports (AP/Baltimore Sun, 7/28).
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