SUNY Upstate students will help fill physician shortage

By: Joleene Des Rosiers

SYRACUSE N.Y. – On Thursday, 143 SUNY Upstate Medical Students learned where they will spend their first year of residency. It’s an annual rite of passage known as Match Day. And as the excited residents are just the beginning of thousands and thousands of students who will need to be trained to meet a very real and very severe physician shortage.

Screams of joy and hugs of happiness. SUNY medical students are pleased with where they will spend their first year of residency. They also face a huge population of under-served individuals.

In the 1970s, the American Medical Association predicted there would be a surplus of physicians, so they capped enrollment. But they were wrong. So much so that a national shortage is now plaguing the nation. The solution? Lift the cap on medical student enrollment, and fill a room like this with excited graduates.

“We just admitted this last year our largest class ever. And what we’re planning to do over the next seven to eight years is increase enrollment by about 30 percent to meet the shortage that we’re seeing because of an aging population,” Upstate Medical University President Dr. David Smith told News 10 Now.

Andrew and Sarah Bohn get it. Thanks to a program called R-Med, SUNY students are able to experience first hand, just how real the shortage in rural areas is.

“My wife and I actually both did the rural medicine program here in Syracuse,” said SUNY Medical Student Andrew Bohn. “We were in Potsdam for ten months working in a small hospital there. And we’re both small town people. Eventually when we’re done with our training, we would like to end up back in a small town.”

“It was a very good experience, and we are definitely considering going back to a small town,” added Sarah Bohn.

For Breda Morrissey, it’s off to the big city where she said she is greatly needed.

“There’s particularly a shortage in obstetricians these days and that’s the field that I’m entering, and there’s a great need for obstetricians in New York City, so I’m looking forward to helping under-served people in New York City, and everyone,” Morrissey said.

According to several studies, the United States could face a shortage of up to 200,000 physicians by the year 2020. Thousands and thousands more need to be trained over the next several years to meet the needs of the aging baby boom generation.

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