This past summer, Hahnemann University Hospital—a teaching site for Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia—closed their doors. When Hahnemann closed, its’ residents were essentially “orphaned,” losing their jobs overnight. Residency refers to the post-graduate training period following medical school graduation compulsory for a physician to be licensed to practice medicine. After “matching” to an open residency position at a given teaching hospital, resident training begins across the entire nation on July 1st every year once a contract is signed with the employing organization.
First, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped the number of residency slots in teaching hospitals which were eligible for Medicare payments. This mistake has facilitated a shortage of primary care physicians across the country. A larger supply of primary care physicians is associated with a lower mortality rate. In fact, adding 10 primary care physicians per 100 000 population increases life expectancy by nearly two months, whereas the same increase in specialty physicians only improves life expectancy by 19 days.
I want to share information about a new program that can help Kitsap County buck the trend by bringing a whole crop of enthusiastic young physicians to our area. It’s called the Northwest Washington Family Medicine Residency Program.