Two distinct but interconnected trends in US health care have emerged in recent years with respect to COVID-19 and the recent social justice movement.

First, there is a growing gap in the doctor-patient relationship. An aging population of baby boomers has created a demand for more doctors, many of whom are baby boomers themselves.

While some older doctors, especially GPs, may have delayed their retirement because there aren’t enough new doctors to fill their shoes, other providers are leaving medicine due to emotional and physical stress. resulting from the pandemic. This exodus may also be accelerated by a growing anti-science movement.

Nurses and doctors have spent the past two years battling not just a major virus, but also the heartbreaking knowledge that while some patients trust them to manage a ventilator, they won’t trust them to administer a vaccine that protects. against COVID. Health professionals are exhausted.

In a 2021 report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the association predicted that by 2034 there will be between 17,800 and 48,000 fewer primary care physicians than needed; that number widens for specialists to 77,100. Expect longer wait times to see doctors.

The new social justice movement is also driving changes in health care. Disparities in health care and access for minority populations – including the uninsured and those living in rural communities – are well known in the medical community, and public recognition of these disparities has grown. during the last years.

Fortunately, greater pressure at universities and medical schools is underway to identify solutions and expand the pool of medical students who will help make health care more accessible. One way to increase the number of doctors is to improve diversity in the medical field, but that will take time.

This week’s page 1 story about a new residency program coming to St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard is good news for locals, even if they never visit that hospital. Why? Because the program, a 10-year, $100 million partnership between Morehouse School of Medicine and CommonSpirit Health, represents a new national pathway to hospitals for black and other minority physicians in residence. This will help break down the barriers facing the next generation of physicians.

Yes, it’s not uncommon for doctors to relocate after residency, but we think Ventura County has a lot to offer young professionals looking to put down roots and start a family. We certainly see physicians staying after residency programs at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, Adventist Health Simi Valley as well as Ventura County Medical Center and Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.

St. John’s new residency program will take time to get started, but once it does, we hope it will provide a new pool of young, energetic and intelligent physicians. It’s good for the community. And it’s good for our health.

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