Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) and Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce (WCMEW) reports highlight current and impending physician workforce shortages.
“Wisconsin’s aging physician workforce and aging patient population are creating challenges for the state’s health care delivery system. Data shows Wisconsin needs between 2,000 and 4,000 additional physicians by 2035,” according to Chuck Shabino, MD, WHA chief medical officer and WCMEW board chair. “We know that graduate medical education is a key factor in where physicians end up practicing, and funding GME is a successful model to recruit and retain physicians in Wisconsin.”
Wisconsin has made significant progress expanding medical school class size at both The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), which has opened two new campuses, and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH), which has gradually increased the class size of their program, the Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine (WARM), since its inception in 2007.
As Wisconsin medical schools increase enrollment to meet demand, and more medical students march toward physician practice, more residency positions are vital. Match Day, when graduates find out their residency position, is a day that medical school seniors anxiously await. The big day for 2018 grads came March 16. The 2018 Match Day was the largest in National Resident Matching Program history. Nearly 370 graduates from MCW and UWSMPH were among the 37,103 graduates applying for positions nationally. All 370 Wisconsin graduates have been matched to residencies.
The percent of Wisconsin graduates entering residencies in primary care increased from 40 percent last year to 42 percent in 2018. This growth in Wisconsin primary residencies is not by chance. It is the result of WHA-championed graduate medical education (GME) grant programs administrated by the Department of Health Services creating new residency opportunities in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is on track to have almost 80 new medical residents by 2021 as a result of the WHA-backed program. The new residency positions have been focused on primary care, and in addition to family practice, internal medicine and pediatrics, include general surgery, psychiatry and rural medicine.
“We’ve struck the right path and it is shaping up to be a successful public-private model,” said WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. “Now we need to build on this ‘grow our own’ approach to make sure Wisconsin has enough caregivers for our future.”
Wisconsin graduates matching to Wisconsin residencies also increased from 2106 and 2017. Overall, 26 percent of MCW graduates matched to Wisconsin residencies. That percentage more than doubled, to 53 percent, for graduates of the MCW Green Bay program. Thirty-three percent of UWSMPH graduates will remain in Wisconsin. Over half of the graduates of UWSMPH’s WARM program will be entering residency positions in-state.
Physicians from UWSMPH’s WARM program score big with 89 percent practicing in Wisconsin upon completion of their residency training, validating WHA’s “grow our own” approach.
“We know if a student growing up in Wisconsin attends a Wisconsin medical school and completes a residency here, there is an 86 percent chance a physician who specializes in primary care will practice in Wisconsin,” Shabino said. “We call it the ‘86 percent equation,’ and we have been focusing on each of the components from a public policy perspective. It’s a textbook example of identifying a problem and then working with WHA members and physician leaders, and state agencies and elected officials to craft solutions.”