How to Ease the Doctor Shortage: California's Big Ideas

August 26th, 2013 2 Min read How to Ease the Doctor Shortage: California's Big Ideas Blog
California is making news with its attempts to prepare for the influx of newly insured patients as a result of healthcare reform. With one of the largest populations in the U.S., the Golden State is poor on availability of physicians per capita and state funding, but it appears to be rich with ideas on how to possibly mitigate the doctor shortage. Here are just a few. Grow your own California already produces fruit, nuts, wine, cheese, and silicon chips. So why not providers, too? This was the motivation for Southern California's Inland Empire, which raised enough money to persuade law makers to approve the opening of a public medical school. The UC Riverside School of Medicine is the first of its kind to appear on the West Coast in nearly 50 years. What's unique about it is that these med students won't be trained in hospitals like they are in traditional schools and residency programs. Instead, the training will happen elsewhere in the community, such as outpatient settings that are especially hurting from a lack of doctor care. That's the short-term plan to increase healthcare access for this medically-underserved population. The long-term hope is that these future doctors will develop strong ties to the community and choose to remain in the area to practice medicine. Pass laws for more equality A new bill aims to pave the way for advanced practice professionals to have more autonomy. California Senate Bill 491 would increase nurse practitioners' scope of practice by allowing them to practice independently of physicians in certain medical facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, and skilled-nursing facilities. The goal is to bridge the provider gap by increasing accessibility to healthcare across the state. The bill continues to move ahead -- but not without opposition by some groups, including the California Medical Association, which represents doctors. The fear is that too much autonomy will blur the lines between physicians and advanced practice professionals, despite their different levels of training and experience. Welcome temporary physicians From the Latin word meaning "one holding a place," locum tenens is a term used to describe a physician who travels from place to place to temporarily fill in for absent doctors. Amid this worsening shortage, these traveling doctors are helping the state's hospitals and healthcare facilities maintain a high level of patient care -- and increase revenue and capacity -- without interrupting the services they provide to the community. Locum tenens have become an essential part of California's healthcare delivery system. CompHealth provides more locum tenens doctors to California than any other healthcare staffing company. The physician specialties most in demand are primary care and emergency medicine, as outpatient clinics and ERs are inundated with patients seeking medical care. Learn more about how CompHealth can help healthcare facilities meet their physician staffing needs.