Local News

Medical Professionals: N.C. Needs More Doctors

Posted December 21, 2006 8:43 p.m. EST

— Current health care projections indicate there could be a serious shortage of physicians in the coming decades if the issue is not addressed now.

That was the topic of a North Carolina Institute of Medicine summit held Thursday at North Carolina State University, in which health care professionals discussed various recommendations to address the shortage.

"This is looming on the horizon. And if we don't take steps now to address it, there's going to be a major problem in the future," said Pam Silberman, NCIM president and chief executive officer.

Ideas ranged from increasing enrollment at the state's medical schools by 30 percent.

"We're going to be studying the notion of forming a branch campus of our medical school in Charlotte," University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine Dean Bill Roper said.

The institute suggests also believes the state needs to work harder to convince students, internists and medical residents to practice in the state, particularly in underserved areas. More than half of medical professionals now leave.

"We need to be focused on the training that doctors get after medical school in North Carolina and how we can give them greater incentive to practice here in North Carolina," Roper said

One big concern, right now, is the dwindling interest in primary care and family practice careers. Healthcare professionals say some medical schools influence students to gravitate to the more specialized higher profile careers that pay more money.

Most of the institute's suggestions will require millions of dollars in funding from the General Assembly, but most will require millions of dollars from the General Assembly.