SGU President Dr. Richard Olds addresses physician shortage in Q&A with Healio

In an article published by Healio, St. George’s University President Dr. Richard Olds addresses how international medical graduates can help solve the primary care physician shortage in the US. During the interview, Dr. Olds provides insight into the conditions that caused the shortage and how it has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID has also made this shortage worse since most primary care doctors support themselves in the outpatient area, and during the first year of the pandemic, about 10% of physicians closed their practices permanently,” Dr. Olds stated in the article. “Indeed, by 2034, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the US will face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians.”

While the problem is growing, there are potential solutions, including educating more international medical graduates. International medical graduates are more likely to practice primary care in areas where the need for physicians is greatest, such as the rural US, and can offer the quality care needed to close the gap.

“Because U.S. medical school grads are not going into primary care or practicing in rural areas in large numbers, many international medical graduates have filled that gap,” according to Dr. Olds. “About 40% of the primary care doctors in the U.S. trained outside the states. At my university, 75% of our grads go into primary care fields while 25% specialize.”

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