Relief from physician shortage coming soon?

It's no secret that the current physician shortage has looming problems of lack of medical care for more insured patients, workload burdens for existing physicians, and difficulties with recruitment. However, there may be some hope.

Enrollment in family residency programs was up in 2011, jumping 11 percent from 2010, which may indicate a greater interest in primary care. For example, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), saw a 20-25 percent increase in medical applicants, according to a Q&A by Kaiser Health News.

"Primary care has always had the strongest connection with public service and a public health agenda," said Andy Bindman, professor of medicine at UCSF and chief of general medicine at San Francisco General Hospital, in the interview.

And what about future doctors? Today's teens are increasingly disinterested in healthcare and science careers, according to an online survey by Harris Interactive for University of Sciences released today. Nearly half (49 percent) of 9th to 12th graders reported that they definitely or probably would not consider a career in healthcare or science, an 8.9 percent increase from the year before, according to a press release. Even more, 60 percent of younger teens (age 13-15) also said they were not interested.

The survey found that those who were interested in pursuing healthcare- and science-based careers were overwhelmingly females and minorities. Interested respondents cited reasons, including financial motivations ("earning good money"), general interest, and public service ("want to help people").

"It is essential that the sciences remain top of mind for America's teenagers," said Russell J. DiGate, PhD, provost at University of the Sciences.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News interview
- here's the press release