policy

#NotMatched2014: Number of Residency Slots Hasn’t Changed in 17 Years

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped residency slots at 100,000. As more students graduate from medical school, there are many left unmatched and without the proper training to become practicing physicians. So, how will America address the physician shortage? Learn more at...

The Underlying Message of the MEDemoiselles’ Sexy Calendar

It’s not uncommon to see women in satin corsets, sporting fishnet stockings held up by garter belts, draped in feather boas for a calendar spread. Burlesque is a genre known to celebrate beauty, with an appreciation for the curvy female figure, deviating from the mainstream ideal of beauty. Dance revues and calendars are so common in today’s society, that people hardly blink an eye when they pass by a flyer for a show or see a calendar with scantily clad women on display. Except when the cover of that calendar involves a group of female medical students. Last year, 10 Canadian medical students from the Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec, posed in a fundraiser calendar to benefit a multiple sclerosis charity and to partially fund their prom. The MEDemoiselles, as they called themselves, wanted to create a sexy, yet tasteful calendar to raise money for a worthy cause, just as their male counterparts (Sexy Calendar Docs) did the year prior. Within 4 days, the group raised over $2,000. Despite the rapid monetary success, slut-shaming ensued on social media and the girls eventually withdrew their calendar from publication, returning a portion of pre-purchase funds to the would-be buyers.   Whereas the MEDemoiselles were heavily scrutinized for being photographed wearing more clothing than can be seen on a pool deck, nobody bat an eyelash the year prior when the “Sexy Calendar Docs”...

Last Year 1,700 Students Didn’t Match, And The Numbers Are Only Getting Worse

Every year, more and more graduating medical students are not matching. This is a huge problem not only for these medical students who are without jobs, but also for America’s growing physician shortage. Learn more at...

The Unsustainable SGR

So I must apologize.  Amidst my destroying your medical school innocence with posts about student debt, floundering federal GME, and the reality of the government shutdown, I referenced SGR but never actually shared that horror.  Maybe it was regression to a happier time, or a little folie à deux (can you tell I’ve had my Psych rotation?), but SGR has been the bane of my time in policy.  And I want it to be yours. SGR, formally known as the Sustainable Growth Rate, was a formula developed under none other than the Balanced Budget Act (the same one that set the cap for GME-funded residency slots at 100,000) to determine the Centers for Medicare And Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursement payments to physicians.  And because the universe loves a good cosmic joke, SGR had been developed to replace a flawed payment system.  At a basic level, the theory of this formula was that a conversion factor could be used to balance yearly spending in healthcare. Here’s how the formula works.  Each year CMS projects their spending on healthcare for the coming year.  At the end of the year, if there is money left over, it gets rolled over to the next year’s budget by changing the conversion factor (guess how many times that has happened).  And if, by some unforeseeable tragedy, spending outstripped the projection, the deficit is taken from...

That Extra Piece of Birthday Cake May Not Be As Harmless As You Think

This morning, the CDC published an article in JAMA on the declining rates of childhood obesity. Obesity rates in children between the ages of 2 and 5 have decreased by 43% in the past decade, they say. It’s hard to make sense of this number without understanding the epidemic, the people it affects, and how it affects the country as a while. What can we do to help? First, know the...

Are Zombie Doctors Taking Over America?

They might be. But here’s how your boy ZDogg is fighting...

Is It Ethical to Keep a Pregnant Woman on Life Support Solely To Keep Her Baby Alive?

It astounded me to hear that, in light of the now heavily debated case of a pregnant woman in Texas named Marlise Muñoz who was kept on life support specifically in hopes of maintaining the viability of her fetus, there is currently another eerily similar predicament brewing in Victoria, British Columbia. While judges ruled last week that Muñoz be taken off life support (because doctors deemed the fetus unviable) the case for Robyn Benson is murkier. In the case of Muñoz, her family, particularly her husband, did not want her to be kept on life support even though they understood that the pregnancy would thus not go to term. It was, no doubt, an agonizing decision, but in Muñoz’s case, the red tape was put up by the hospital and the state of Texas; not the wishes of her family. Marlise Muñoz Benson’s story has emerged with a twist on the Muñoz case: her husband and the doctors agree that keeping her on life support until they can deliver the fetus via c-section is the only option. An important distinction here is that, in Benson’s case, the fetus (remarkably) is still growing normally despite the condition of the mother. But how does one even approach the idea of calling Robyn Benson the soon-to-be baby’s mother? Right now she is genetically and physically a host unit; she will not wake...