A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would dedicate $43 million in funding to help reverse the shortage of preventive-medicine and public-health physicians.
Specifically, the bill would provide funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to train public-health physicians in the skills necessary to lead pandemic flu planning, bioterrorism surveillance, chronic-disease prevention, quality improvement and safety initiatives in the healthcare system, and health promotion at both the patient and population levels.
Michael Parkinson, president of the American College of Preventive Medicine, applauded the effort. Preventive-medicine physiciansthe only U.S. physicians trained in both clinical medicine and public healthare uniquely equipped to address the health needs of individuals and populations alike, he said.
According to statistics from the college, 76 preventive-medicine training programs are training an all-time low of 364 physicians. By comparison, 90 preventive-medicine training programs in the U.S. were training 420 physicians in 1998.
At the same time as this decrease, the Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that between the years 2000 and 2010, the demand for public health professionals will grow at twice the rate of all other occupations in the U.S., the ACPM reports. -- by Jennifer Lubell