HCA targets residents to ease doc shortage

With a looming physician shortage, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is setting its sights on a new recruitment target--residents.

According to the Tennessee hospital chain, recruiting new doctors is cheaper than hiring practicing physicians and also could lead to long-term employment, American Medical News reported.

"With a physician shortage of 90,500 predicted by the year 2020, it would be wise if you're trying to increase the physician supply in your area to invest in medical training," Christiane Mitchell, director of federal affairs for the Association of American Medical Colleges, told amednews.

HCA will add up to 600 residency slots at four of its Florida hospitals that didn't have residency programs. It plans to finance the medical training, which will start in 2014, through Medicare.

In fact, Medicare funds more than 75 percent of residency programs that train new doctors, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

But for hospitals that already offer medical training, Congress has capped their number of Medicare-funded residency slots since 1997. With millions of new patients gaining insurance under health reform, those residency caps may be partly to blame for worsening the physician shortage.

Nevertheless, recent data may encourage HCA's new recruitment approach. Forty-eight percent of doctors practice in the state where they completed their residency, while 67 percent practice in the state where they both earned their undergraduate medical education and completed their residency, amednews noted.

For example, after earning their undergraduate medical education in California, 67.5 percent of medical and osteopathic students stayed in the state to practice.

To learn more:
- read the amednews article