Facing potential doctor shortage, N.J. Senate approves bill for action

Monday, 13 February 2012 17:22

stethascope002_optNew Jersey could have 2,800 fewer physicians by 2020

A bill which would require the state Health and Senior Services commissioner to convene a planning summit to examine an expected shortage of physicians practicing in New Jersey was approved Monday by the state Senate.

The legislation (S-173), was introduced in response to a report issued by the Physician Workforce Policy Task Force in 2010 which predicts a shortfall of nearly 3,000 doctors in the the state by 2020, including 1,000 primary care physicians and 1,800 specialists.

The measure seeks to address that shortage by requiring the health commissioner to convene a planning summit comprised of relevant state agencies, boards and representatives of New Jersey medical schools and teaching hospitals.

The summit would be charged with analyzing the physician workforce supply, discussing the redistribution or expansion of residency slots to address shortages and investigating ways to include more hospitals in resident rotations in family medicine, internal medicine and pediatric medicine.

“A recently completed report predicts that within the next decade, New Jersey will face a shortage of thousands of physicians practicing in family care and important specialties,” Sen. Robert Singer (R-Ocean), a co-sponsor, said. “Unless we get to work now to prevent that shortage, many New Jerseyans may soon find themselves without doctors or unable to obtain appointments or treatments when they need them.”

“Part of the problem is that many of the doctors who go to medical school in New Jersey and train in our hospitals end up leaving the state to practice elsewhere,” Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego (R-Burlington), a co-sponsor, added. “The planning summit created by this legislation will help us to determine why doctors, especially specialists in critical fields, are fleeing New Jersey. Once we understand why it is happening, we can create and enact a plan to help us retain the doctors that our residents need.”