Dec. 19, 2006
Media Contact: Eric Schoch
IU Should Graduate More Physicians to Meet Indiana's Needs, Study Group Concludes
INDIANAPOLIS -- An expert task force convened by the Indiana University School of Medicine has recommended the school boost its enrollment of medical students 30 percent to ensure an adequate supply of Indiana doctors in the coming two decades.
At a time when an aging population promises to increase the demand for medical services, the task force found that
· Indiana may already have a physician shortage, especially among poorer populations;
· Like the general population, Indiana's physician population is aging;
· A "core group" of physicians with Indiana medical education backgrounds has provided "stability and continuity" but a significant number of those physicians are nearing retirement age;
· Indiana's physician population will grow in the coming years, but not enough to meet the state's needs without a boost from the IU School of Medicine.
"As Indiana's only medical school, we must act soon if we are to begin producing enough medical students, and medical residents, to the meet Hoosiers' needs," said Stephen B. Leapman, M.D., executive associate dean for educational affairs.
Without the additional enrollment, Indiana would be short about 1,975 doctors in 2015, the task force predicted.
The Association of American Medical Colleges also recommended in June 2006 a 30 percent increase in medical student enrollment nationwide over the next 10 years, which would add nearly 5,000 medical students annually by 2015.
Even if the IU School of Medicine began adding immediately to its current annual enrollment of 280 students, it would take at least seven years before the increase would have an impact — four years for students' medical school education, and three or more years for the residency programs in which new physicians finish their training.
The task force said the school must start making the necessary preparations now to expand enrollment, consider incentives to populate medically underserved areas, and urge the Indiana General Assembly to provide the necessary funding to carry out these initiatives.
Because residency training in Indiana also is related to retention of Hoosier physicians, the school of medicine should begin working with Indiana hospitals to expand the number of slots in residency programs, the task force said.
To develop its projects and recommendations, the task force employed computer software used by the federal government and the Association of American Medical Colleges, as well as data from the Indiana State Department of Health, the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency and the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile.
In addition to Dr. Leapman, members of the task force included school of medicine faculty and representatives of the state Medical Licensing Board, the Indiana State Department of Health, the Indiana State Medical Association, the Indiana Health and Hospital Association, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the Indiana Area Health Education Center (AHEC), and the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians Family Medicine Residency Program Directors Committee.