Category Archives: A Closer Look at Health Professions Education

Sep 6 2012

Beyond the Affordable Care Act: Training the Next Generation of Health Care Providers for the Post-Reform Era

As students settle back into school and the nation finishes its Labor Day celebration, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Blog is asking diverse experts: What is and isn’t working in health professions education today, and what changes are needed to prepare a high-functioning health and health care workforce that can meet the country’s current and emerging needs? Today’s post is by Elizabeth Wiley, MD, JD, MPH, the national president of the American Medical Student Association and a recent graduate of George Washington University School of Medicine.


Ensuring the health professions workforce is prepared for the challenges to come demands a multifaceted approach. With the Supreme Court’s decision this summer to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is more important than ever that our health professions workforce be prepared for health care reform implementation. The statistics detailing the growing demand for health professionals have been well-documented. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that there will be a shortage of 124,000 – 159,000 physicians by 2025. But, for medical education, increasing the number of medical graduates alone is likely to be insufficient. Rather, expansions in production could support a higher functioning workforce if accompanied by additional reforms. Five areas identified by the American Medical Student Association for reform include:


•      “Flipping the pyramid” and recalibrating specialty distribution: It is critical that we change the culture of medical education to better value primary care. Under the ACA, there is investment in meaningful opportunities for primary care training through programs like teaching health centers. Changing the specialty-driven culture of many medical schools, however, will also require addressing the primary care-specialty reimbursement rate gap.

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