Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Doctor supply drops in France

The question of whether there is an impending shortage of doctors in the US is hot topic these days. I have been appointed to the National Health Care Workforce Commission, created by the Affordable Care Act to help resolve this question and develop the appropriate policies to avert problems, if, indeed they are coming. In France, there have been similar concerns because the number of students allowed to moved past the first year of medical school was constrained by the medicus clausus for so long. Several years ago it became apparent that the doctors in practice in France were becoming older and they were not being replaced by new physcians.

Today, Le Quotidien de Médecin confirmed the trend: "193 943 doctors were active in France on January first 2010. (30.9 per 10,000). This is 5,600 less than a year ago." The data come from the demographic atlas of the profession published by the Ordre des Medecins, the licensing body for French physicians. The Atlas pointed out that the average age for doctors in France is now just above 50 years--in a nation where these is a dispute over raising the retirement age from 60. The new doctors coming in are also changing the face of medicine in France, only 8.6% of physicians are in solo private practice (medecins de ville) and the replacement rate for that group is only 30%.

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