Funding cuts threaten medical residency programs, officials say
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
There are more medical students in Oklahoma than there are residency slots available, and potential cuts in the federal budget could make the situation worse, two health education officials said Wednesday.
They spoke at a forum hosted by the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce as part of its series on health care issues.
Oklahoma could see a cut of $17.5 million to its residency programs, which provide the stage between completing medical school and becoming a practicing physician, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
This could make the ratio of medical students to residency slots even higher, contributing to an already severe physician shortage in Oklahoma, which ranks 45th among states in doctors per 100,000 residents.
“We can’t cut our way to improved health care outcomes,” said Dr. Kayse Shrum, dean of the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. “We can’t even maintain our way to improved outcomes.”
Residency programs are paid mostly through federal Medicare funds, which have been capped since 1997. The funding does not kick in until the third year of a program, although legislation proposed in Oklahoma would help offset those costs, Shrum said.
The current ratio of residents to medical students is .92, well below the national average of 1.24, said Dr. Gerard Clancy, president of the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine in Tulsa.
“We are a donor state in medical students right now,” he said. “Not good.”