A new study highlights how many doctors Wisconsin needs. The wait to see a doctor could get longer, if projections on the supply of and demand for physicians are accurate. George Quinn is senior vice president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association. "We've been very conservative in our projections," says George Quinn, senior vice president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association. "We'll see a dramatic shortfall between the required demand for physician services and the available supply." The report by Hospital Association finds that Wisconsin is already short nearly 374 primary care physicians across 31 counties. That means additional challenges for patients. "Those people who really need medical services will not be able to obtain them, at least not in the short term," notes Quinn. "Any time a medical need goes unmet . . . the problems that exist tend to worsen."
Recruiting physicians is more difficult than ever before, even though Quinn says Wisconsin remains a very attractive place in which to practice medicine. So what's the prescription? The report makes several recommendations — including tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness programs. "We think that the primary place to look for that kind of reimbursement program should be the state goevrnment," says Quinn, adding that Madison "should make a comitememt toward trying to solve the coming physician shortage issue in Wisconsin, and this is one very concrete way to do that."
The study , conducted by the WHA for the Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce, found that the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin have, on average, graduated 336 medical students each of the past six years, a number that has remained constant for two decades. Only about 38 percent of graduates stay and practice medicine in Wisconsin. Quinn concedes the state's challenging fiscal situation will make reimbursement and debt forgiveness a tough sell, but he says it's a priority in light of the state's need for more physicians. "We think tuition reimbursment programs are of great imprtance . . . because (if) we can agree to have tuition debt forgiven in return for pratcticing in Wisconsin, I think we can keep some of those folks here."