A new study shows that many cities will see a shortage of obstetricians and gynecologists by 2020, and Detroit is ranked the sixth highest on that list.
By 2050, the study is predicting a shortfall of doctors in that field.
“Not surprised,” said Doug Skrzyniarz, associate vice president of Government Health Affairs at Wayne State University.
Skrzyniarz saw this problem coming, which is why Wayne State University and three other state medical schools helped come up with a plan called MIDOCs.
He says less OB-GYN’s in Detroit means less access for women to improve their health, especially moms-to-be.
“Woman are not getting access to the prenatal care that they need to help premature birth," Skrzyniarz said. "Detroit has one of the highest premature birth rates in the country.”
The problem, Skrzyniarz said, is primary care fields like family practitioners, psychiatrists, pediatricians and OB-GYN’s don’t pay as much compared to other specialties.
That income rate lessons for urban or rural areas that have a high Medicaid population.
“Medical students have to pay off their debts and they are tending to gravitate towards communities where they receive a higher amount of income,” Skrzyniarz said.
Another problem, school officials say, is there aren’t enough residency spots compared to the number of physicians that retiring.
Residency must be completed before students can become doctors.
MIDOCs is the first time in Michigan medical schools joined together to combat this problem. It was passed in the state budget a few weeks ago.
The 10-year plan creates 500 new primary care residency spots in Michigan through $28 million in funding from the schools and state, along with federal money.
“Instead of those students going to California or Texas, will now have slots for them to train in,” Skrzyniarz said.
Part of the plan is to have those students commit to work in underserved communities, like Detroit, for two years after their residency with the promise of up to $75,000 in loan repayments.
That’s a big chunk considering the average med student in Michigan has a little less than $200,000 in loans.
“We are making a commitment, they’re making a commitment themselves to work in those communities and then the residents are the ones who are truly going to benefit,” Skrzyniarz added.
The plan kicks in next year by creating 50 new residency spots for primary care physicians, which includes obstetricians and gynecologists.