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A 'Perfect Storm'

Dr. Doebler: A 'Perfect Storm' for Urology Patients, Doctors

Taken individually the issues are troubling enough; combine them and the conditions are just right for a "perfect storm" in healthcare and, specifically, in the specialty of urology. Anticipating these developments, Valley Urological Associates took steps to add a physician extender, Richard D. Burns, PA-C to ensure that Valley Urological Associates' reputation for quality care and prompt access continues into the future.

"We have been tracking this for some time," said Dr. Doebler, "and the situation is quite sobering. We may not be able to impact the situation on a regional or national level, but we can make sure that our patients continue to receive excellent care and get that care promptly. Richard is a key part of this plan."

The "situation" to which Dr. Doebler refers is the documented national shortage of physicians in key specialties, like urology. He cites statistics from the Association of American Medical Colleges (www.aamc.org) and other sources that indicate the shortage of physicians, including urologists, is worse than originally anticipated.

"Three factors have combined to create this growing crisis," commented Dr. Doebler. "It's ironic that just 10 years ago experts were predicting an oversupply of physicians. Not only will that oversupply not materialize, but it has been replaced by a physician shortage, and one that by 2015 will be 50% worse than expected. First, according to the AAMC, roughly half of all active urologists are over age 55. That means about 5,000 urologists will more than likely retire in the next 10 years, and only half that number will be replaced by new urologists coming into the system," he added. "Second, recent healthcare reforms will add more than 30 million Americans to the system. Finally, add to these first two issues the number of aging baby boomers—about 32 million—qualifying for Medicare in the next 10 years, and you can understand why we are so concerned."

The regional picture is just as bleak, according to Dr. Doebler. "The ideal situation is to have about one urologist for every 30,000 people. The problem locally is that, if the current trend continues, in the next five to ten years, there may only be about one urologist for every 60,000 people. That is certainly going to impact access," added Dr. Doebler, "and that's why we are going to continue to be aggressive when it comes to staffing and other practice resources to minimize the effect on our patients."

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