Where Has All the Health Care Gone?
The shortages of health care personnel may soon be one of our nation’s most serious problems. People’s lives and state of well being are being placed at risk due to the fact that there may not be a doctor, or a nurse, or a required specialist available when care is needed. We are beginning to see this developing and the forecasts are that these difficulties will rapidly intensify in future years. We need to act now to resolve this critical crisis.
There already is a shortage of nurses and of doctors in both urban and rural areas. It is becoming more and more difficult to get health care employees to accept employment in these underserved areas. Steps need to be taken now to encourage health care workers to see patients living in areas with no, or not enough, doctors. The Internet can assist in allowing remote examinations of patients and in disseminating health care information, yet this has to be studied thoroughly to avoid the dangers this can also create.
There are projections that every health care profession will soon be understaffed. Current health care employees, many of whom belong to the “baby boom” generation, are retiring in larger numbers than there are new graduates taking their place. This is especially a problem as the increased number of retired people means that the patient population is growing. Fewer health care employees with less experience are facing growing patient caseloads. Something has to be done soon to alleviate a major catastrophe in the delivery of health care services.
One of the problems is there are not enough teachers and schools available to train future health care employees. It is hard to lure health care professionals into taking what, for many, are lower paid teacher positions. We need to examine this problem and find ways to lure more professionals into teaching. We may find ways to get some health care professional to teach part-time or get retired professionals to keep up with current trends and then teach their skills to students. We need to act now before this problem becomes an unresolvable difficulty.