Monday, January 17, 2005

The Cardiologist Shortage

Kevin, MD recently posted about this article from American Medical News. The article reports on the efforts of the American College of Cardiology to increase the number of cardiologists by creating a 5-year cardiology residency that combines the traditionational 3-year internal medicine residency and 3-year cardiology fellowship. Graduates of this shorter program would not do invasive procedures such as angioplasty:
"The ACC would like to add an alternative five-year program that eliminates the third year of internal medicine and cuts out training in the high-tech cardiology procedures."
The article goes on to say:
"The money saved by cutting out that year could be used to train more cardiology residents or fellows, according to the ACC. More cardiologists would be turned out over time, and such a program would attract medical graduates who might be turned off by either the length of the six-year program or the high-intensity lifestyle of a proceduralist."
I think that a 5-year cardiology residency is a pretty lame suggestion on the part of the ACC. Cutting training by one-year wouldn't save that much money. And the last I heard, there's no shortage of internal medicine residents trying to get into cardiology fellowships. Cardiology is a very popular specialty. There's no reason to try to attract "...graduates who might be turned off by either the length of the six-year program or the high-intensity lifestyle of a proceduralist."
If more cardiologists are needed, then the solution is to simply increase the number of slots in cardiology fellowships. This will require more Medicare funding.
_
The proposal for a 5-year cardiology program is a power grab by the cardiologists, who want more autonomy from the American Board of Internal Medicine.

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