Report Examines Physician Workforce in Massachusetts

Oct 5, 2012

A recent report released by the Massachusetts Medical Society highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the physician workforce in the Commonwealth, which includes a lack of trained specialists and primary care physicians.

The Massachusetts Medical Society’s annual Physician Workforce Study takes a comprehensive look at the working doctors in the state, physician recruitment rates, profession satisfaction, and more. One of the key observations in the report is a lack of primary care doctors and specialists across Massachusetts.

Dr. Richard Aghababian, President of the Society, explains…

Dr. Aghababian also mentioned a shortage in dermatologists and child psychologists.  

Paul Hopkins, spokesman for Northern Berkshire Health, the company that operates North Adams Regional Hospital, said that the study shows that his hospital is not alone in facing a shortage of physicians.

The study says that hospitals in rural areas outside of Boston are continuing to have difficulty recruiting and retaining physicians.

Michael Leary, spokesman for Berkshire Health Systems, one of Berkshire County’s single largest employers and operator of Berkshire Medical Center, said that for the past decade, the company has done work through its Physician Recruitment Program to bring new hires to the area. He said that over the years, the way hospitals would hire new doctors has shifted.

Leary said that the program has helped bring over 120 physicians to the area.

Paul Hopkins from Northern Berkshire Healthcare says that it can be difficult to bring in workers from other areas, because when you hire a new doctor, you’re also relocating their families.

Dr. Aghababian says that Society also observed that doctors are facing challenges in taking time to comply with new regulations set forth by both the federal Affordable Care Act and the recent Health Care Cost Containment law signed by Governor Deval Patrick earlier this year. According to the study, 53% of physicians are unsatisfied with the division of administrative tasks and working with patients.

The report also points out that many doctors in the Commonwealth fear liability and the possibility of facing legal issues.

A majority of physicians polled, 38%, would prefer a single payer national health care system. 62% preferred other methods.

The full report is available here.