Critical Shortage of Primary Care Doctors in America
WHEREAS, disease prevention programs for certain communities are not being implemented because health deserts, that is, communities without doctors in pockets of the inner city and rural communities, are increasing and causing huge health disparities once again; and
WHEREAS, this shortage of doctors, especially primary care doctors, as well as the lack of diversity in our physician workforce, have been long overlooked because many of the people harmed usually do not have a political voice and the clout to hold elected leaders accountable; and
WHEREAS, medical schools remain closed systems and do not generate sufficient numbers of primary care physicians and few minority physicians, thus they are not responding to the needs of society ensuring positive patient outcomes; and
WHEREAS, the Association of American Medical Colleges ("AAMC") reports that in 1978, there were just 542 black males enrolled in U.S. medical schools and in 2014 there were only 515; and
WHEREAS, the few doctors who will now take Medicare and Medicaid patients are limited by the federal government preventing them from having the resources necessary to provide the patients with adequate care; and
WHEREAS, there are alternatives to the traditional American medical school's shortages. Quality, accredited, off shore schools are significant sources of primary care doctors of color who are American citizens but attended an off shore medical school. Primary care doctors of color who attended such accredited, off shore schools face an implicit bias and most doors remain closed to them, especially in most American teaching hospitals. The AAMC reports that in 2013, over 48,000 students applied to medical school and just over 20,000 matriculated. That leaves 28,000 prospective students with no school. Many of them will head to medical schools in the Caribbean, and many will enter primary care, which has the largest shortage; and
WHEREAS, "pipeline" programs have been proven to work but are underfunded, sporadically funded and undervalued; and
WHEREAS, "pipeline" programs engage underrepresented students into a career track and may involve service, education, or research, while others may involve multiple components; and
WHEREAS, "pipeline" programs have proven to be effective at the elementary, middle and high school levels, as well as the college and post-baccalaureate levels.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls on Congress to increase the funding for African-American medical students and African-American primary care residents; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls for federal and state laws to support continuous, sustainable funding for the implementation and assessment of pipeline programs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will initiate a plan of action to obtain sustainable private-sector support for pipeline programs for African Americans and other represented people of color at all levels; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that most of this funding be distributed to institutions that focus on hiring and training African-American and other underrepresented doctors seeking to work in communities most in need; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that such legislation should include additional funding for medical school students focusing on general (primary care), internal medicine and family medicine.