What is driving a physician shortage and how can it be stopped?

As its name insists, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is supposed to give more American access to reasonably-price healthcare, but this affordability would prove fruitless if the number of primary care physicians in the United States continues to decrease.

Recent findings from the likes of SERMO, the largest online community of physicians, show that amongst all provider specialties family and internal medicine are two of three unhappiest groups of physicians, 62 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Only obstetricians and gynecologists come in lower at 59 percent. For internists and family physicians, dissatisfaction with lifestyle was a common factor leading many to rethink their choice of specialty, 25 and 23 percent, respectively.

“These are the doctors on the front lines in medicine who are seeing the increase pressure and in particular now with the ACA in play and a higher stream of patients coming in,” SERMO CEO Peter Kirk tells EHRIntelligence.com. “It is still a challenging work environment and they are at the lower end of the pay scale. Those are the ones looking to change whereas those on the higher end of the pay scale — orthopedists, physiatrists, oncologists, etc. — are happiest with their professions.”

Although these physicians admit to dissatisfaction with their choice of specialty, it does not mean that they are leaving it for another. So then why is this problematic? The answer to that question is seen in the choices made by the next waves of physicians, residents, who are opting more lucrative and less stressful professional positions.

“Based on some of the conversations on the site, you can build a sense of how much there is a drive toward specialty right off,” Kirk explains. “Having your own private practice as a primary care physician is not the dream anymore. It doesn’t pay the bills. There’s too much complexity, too much involved in running a business. This is driving residents into searching for the best-paid specialties in order to help pay of their debt and have a nice head start moving forward.”

Here lies the basis on predictions that physician shortages are only a matter of time. The ACA and increase of insured Americans should only serve to exacerbate the stresses associated with primary care.

“There will not be enough real doctors at the front lines of primary care to handle the workload, especially with the ACA adding 30 million additional patients to the system,” maintains SERMO’s CEO. “More pressure and more of the primary care are being assigned to non-physicians. The NPs and PAs are likely to do more of the work. That’s going to play out over the next five to ten years.”

A solution to the problem?

The physician shortage problem is real, but what can be done about it? Both the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and American Medical Association (AMA) believe the solution to be found in graduate medical education.
Crediting medical schools for increasing enrollments and students for responding with an increasing number of applications, the AAMC is placing the onus on lawmakers:

Now Congress must do its part by lifting the cap on the number of federally supported residency training positions. Lawmakers have responded with proposals in the House and Senate to increase the number of residency positions. But they must act now in order to ensure that there are enough physicians for our growing and aging population.

Meanwhile, the AMA has developed a new policy to encourage state and federal legislators and private payers help fund residents in training with an emphasis on promoting the teaching of team-based and patient-centered care models by accrediting associations.

Through its Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative, the AMA has convened nearly a dozen medical schools to decrease disparities in medical education. “As more patients continue to receive health care coverage, it is essential that the next generation of physicians is sufficiently trained,” said AMA Board Member Stephen Permut, MD.

Health information technology (IT) has a role to play in easing the burdens on providers if developed, implemented, and used properly. But it is still only a support and no substitute for the skill and expertise of physicians using it.

Source:
Kyle Murphy, PhD
EHR Intelligence

Fashionable Footwear – Good for Style, Bad for Foot Health

More than half of Americans suffer from foot problems, and often those problems are directly related to shoes.

But no matter how cute a shoe looks, Orly Avitzur, medical adviser at Consumer Reports, said that having fashionable footwear isn’t worth the health risks.

“Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to lifelong deformities that require surgery to fix,” she said.

According to a new study from the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, uncomfortable and ill-fitting shoes are a serious problem. Shoes that force feet into narrow or pointy toes can cause bunions or hammertoes, where the toes curl unnaturally downward.

But that doesn’t stop women like Trisha Calvo and Jennifer Frost from wearing name brand heels.

“I feel fabulous in them,” Frost said. “You feel fabulous in your shoes…not physically
fabulous in them.”

Studies show that high heels can shorten your Achilles tendon and can trigger planter fasciitis, an inflammation in the soles of the feet. Avitzur recommends foregoing high heels for something more comfortable.

“Opt for a lower heel to take some of the pressure off the ball of your foot,” she said. “Make sure that there is enough room in the toe, and avoid thin-soled shoes that have little or no support.”

But even flat shoes can hurt feet if they lack proper support and cushioning, especially if they’re the wrong size.

One recent study revealed that up to a third of people wear the wrong shoe size, sometimes by up to one-and-a-half sizes. To combat that problem, Consumer Reports recommends measuring your feet each time you buy, especially for people over 40. After that, feet can grow up to half a shoe size every 10 years.

Source:
WRAL

Ladies! Don’t Let Bunions Give You the Blues!

APMA put out the following notes on bunions – check it out:  Bunions are among the most common type of foot ailment today’s podiatrist treats, especially in women. Studies show that women are anywhere from two to nine times more likely to develop a bunion than men! While your high heels and peep toes are partially to blame, your foot type (passed down through your family) is the true culprit.
Style Squeeze

Click the image above to order a FREE poster for your office.

Here’s the good news! Today’s podiatrist is the true expert when it comes to diagnosing and treating bunions. Podiatrists perform tens of thousands of bunion procedures every year, more than any other medical professional in the United States.

Fortunately, today’s podiatrist is only a click away! Podiatrists are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat bunions, based on their education, training, and experience. If you suspect a bunion, visit a podiatrist and beat bunion blues!

Bunion Basics
What exactly is a bunion? Find out in our Bunion Basics tip sheet.

Bunion Blues and Shoes
Are your shoe selections worsening your bunion? Check out our Bunion Blues and Shoes tip sheet to learn more.

Order a FREE Poster for Your Office
Check out this download of a bunions poster – APMA members can get one directly from the APMA e-store

Have More Bunion Questions?
Contact We Treat Feet’s Expert (and Friendly) Staff, they’d be happy to answer any questions you may have!

Source:APMA

Beware the Flip Flops This Summer!

Summer is upon us – cookouts, laying by the pool, strolling around in your favorite flip flops.  It’s a wonderful time of year!

But recent studies are providing a warning concerning our favorite summertime footwear; “While fashionable and fun, flip-flops can actually lead to weakened and fallen foot arches — and that’s just the beginning,” says Dr. Dawn Sears, a New York City doctor of podiatric medicine and surgery. “The danger with flip-flops is that they cause both short-term and long-term harm to your feet.”

Oh no!  Does this mean summer is ruined forever because our dreaded flip flops are going to revolt and destroy all of our feet?!?

No.  Take it easy now.  Even though a press release from Dr. Sears revealed that other serious injuries from flip-flops may include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon injury and stress fractures of the long bones in the foot, these injuries normally occur in patients who wear their flip flops all the time.  So here are some tips on how to avoid the flip flop blues:

  • Avoid wearing flip flops 24/7: There is just not enough support for the foot to keep from causing discomfort and possibly long-term damage. Stick to short trips where you won’t be walking all that much, like to the beach and the pool.
  • Avoid wearing flip flops in challenging conditions: All that foot exposure can result in broken toes and toe nails. Never, ever wear them when operating any type of lawn equipment.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen: Feet can get sunburned too!  Don’t forget to put sunscreen down there.
  • Consider your age: If you’re older, you’re more prone to some of the above issues
  • Consider your weight: As you can imagine, bigger people are more prone to foot damage, especially in flip flops

Enjoy your summer but be sure to keep conscious of your footwear!  As always, contact the We Treat Feet Staff with any questions on the above article (or anything else!).

Source:
Livingston County News

Flatfeet in Children – Cause for Concern?

An article by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons warns that Pediatric Flatfoot, a childhood condition can, if left untreated, result in permanent deformity in adulthood. Flatfoot deformity makes mobility and exercise painful, increasing the risk of reduced cardiovascular health and obesity.

All reasons why it is imperative for parents to keep a close eye on their childrens’ foot development – namely by having them visit a podiatrist at any sign of discomfort.

“Parents never want their child to undergo a surgical procedure,” says Mary Crawford, DPM, FACFAS, an Everett, Washington foot and ankle surgeon, “but uncorrected symptomatic flatfoot can lead to chronic pain and instability as the child ages into adulthood. Children will be on their feet for a long time to come. It’s vital to keep those feet healthy. A foot and ankle surgeon can help parents understand the options – surgical and non-surgical – for treating pediatric flatfoot.”

Not every child with pediatric flatfoot will display symptoms but many will complain of discomfort, tenderness or cramping in the foot, ankle or knee area.  It also makes participating in physical activities difficult, so parents should take note if the child is not participating in these activities with their friends.

So how do doctors diagnose pediatric flatfoot?  The DPM will evaluate the child’s foot in weight bearing and non-weight bearing positions, both in and out of shoes and will also note how the child walks and evaluates the foot’s range of motion.  For further detailed analysis, the physician may order imaging tests such as x-ray, a CT scan, MRI or bone scan.

So moral of the story – don’t mess around if your child appears to have symptoms of pediatric flatfoot as it could have direct, deleterious effects on their future health.

Source:
American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons

Prom Season is Almost Upon Us! How to Choose the Right Shoes (for Your Foot Style & Health!)

Get Your Feet Ready For Prom!
Choosing prom shoes for girls isn’t always easy and oftentimes critical factors such as comfort and fit are overlooked because you fall in love with a certain style or color, a decision that is frequently regretted about 30 minutes into the big night.  Our goal is to encourage you and your friends/family to make smart decisions from a health perspective while still keeping it stylish on Prom Night!

Comfort, Comfort, Comfort!
Comfort needs to be the number one thing you consider with these shoes.  Period.  You’re going to be spending a really long time standing, dancing, running, etc throughout the night and the last thing you need to worry about is discomfort on your feet.

Heels or No Heels?
Heels are obviously a very popular choice for prom but they should bring some consideration before you choose the wear them – do you wear them often?  Have you had issues with them before?  Have you spent long periods of time in them?  There’s no crime in not wearing heels because if you think you may have an issue, you probably will.  Wedges can be a good compromise between giant heels and the more comfortable flats – but just make sure you give it some honest thought!

Go Your Own Way!
Don’t worry about fitting in with what all the other girls are doing – go with your own style!  It’s very likely that you’ll be able to pick out what shoes most girls are going to wear so it wouldn’t be a crime to choose something completely different.  Sure you may get some weird looks from other (jealous) girls but at least you’ll be comfortable and doing your own thing!

Have any questions or comments about choosing the right Prom shoes?  Drop us a line at info@wetreatfeetpodiatry.com or 410-363-4343.