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Why is there such a serious shortage of doctors in New Mexico?
A bit of good news: The basic cause is not anything inherently wrong with New Mexico. It’s tied up in the complications of medical regulations and funding.
A group of speakers from New Mexico Health Resources Inc. recently described the background of this situation and what they are doing about it. NMHR is a nonprofit dedicated to recruiting and retaining physicians in New Mexico, especially underserved areas. The speakers were Jerry Richardson, executive director; Kevin McMullan, health professional recruiter; and Dr. Frank Hesse, a founder and former board member of NMHR who is also former chair of the now-moribund New Mexico Health Policy Commission.
The undersupply of doctors nationwide, they said, traces to a federal commission called the Council on Graduate Medical Education. This commission was founded in the 1930s, when the nation had an oversupply of doctors. A quota was established for the number of medical residents. Today, the training of medical residents is largely subsidized by Medicare. The quota sets the number of residents in each teaching hospital that Medicare will support. It also sets the allocation among specialties.
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