Fewer Doctors Available For Elderly - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Fewer Doctors Available For Elderly

Dr. Paul Smith Dr. Paul Smith

By Megan Moore
NewsChannel 10

AMARILLO, TEXAS - As more of our population ages, there are fewer doctors to take care of them.

Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement get a lot of the blame for not enough doctors going into the geriatric field.

Also, with the average medical school debt being around $150, new grads are going into more lucrative fields.

They choose the sub specialties like dermatology because they get paid more, and the patient demand - in some cases - is not as high as it is in primary care.

Dr. Paul Smith, a fellow with TTUHSC, says "we have to do a better job of balancing the primary care percentage. Right now we have less primary care than we need. We need 60 to 70 percent of our physician base to be primary care. Right now it's the opposite, with more sub specialties than primary care."

If that continues, experts predict four times as many doctors will be needed to treat the elderly.

The problem also extends to nursing homes.

We spoke with one administrator who says it is hard to find medical directors for the facilities because the responsibility is just not worth their while.

Dr. Smith believes one way to curb the problem is to shorten the time it takes grads in Texas to get their medical license.

In Texas, it takes six months longer than other states.

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