A press release announced Dr. Alicia Cunningham’s new infographic. It visually explains the “quiet exodus” of internal medicine doctors from the State of Vermont. She’s convinced the doc shortage is a quiet pandemic, caused by two diverging forces — an aging population, and declining education. What’s happening is that older internists are going to retire at 65, or retire early, or just get out of the speciality altogether. On top of that, students are not majoring in internal medicine because it pays less than sub-specialties, and does not gain respect amongst peers. And, Vermont is the 4th oldest country in the nation, with a median age of 41. That means the demand for internists will grow somewhat exponentially.
However, Dr. Cunningham believes that a direct care/concierge medicine approach could help alleviate the doctor shortage. For one, a direct care practice introduces the element of autonomy, the absence of which has been propagating the brain drain in our country. On top of that, the possibility of higher salary is promising, too.
The most common question Dr. Cunningham’s prospective patients have is “Why can’t I see my doctor anymore?” Hopefully current and future internists see the potential here. Internal medicine in Vermont will have a growing demand, and cash-only practices can seize the opportunity to serve and prosper.
According to Dr. Cunningham, “There is no question concierge medicine will help solve the supply problem in internal medicine. It is the one thing I have seen in my career that generates interest from medical students, encourages other doctors to consider internal medicine again, and prevents those that exist from leaving. I am receiving calls from doctors that are considering re-joining internal medicine using this model.” We couldn’t agree more. Direct care/concierge medicine IS a solution to the doctor shortage, even if only a small pressure, it’s still a force pushing healthcare in the right direction.