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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Possible cure for doctor shortage

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In his March 18 article, "Lawmakers push bill on primary care doctor shortage," Tom Howell Jr. mentions that by 2020 there will be a primary care doctor shortage of about 46,000 doctors. However, the American Medical Association recently predicted a deficit of about 60,000 doctors.

Although creating more residencies will train more primary care doctors, it will be impossible for them to increase the workforce sufficiently to attend to the needs of the additional 30 million people that the Affordable Care Act will add to the primary care physicians' workload.

It takes about 11 years to train a primary care doctor. Some of the education, particularly in the sciences, is impractical for their work and could be limited. College, too, could be curtailed by two years. By combining college and medical school into a four- or five-year program, students could enter a three-year residency and finish training in seven or eight years instead of 11.

This would be an important first step in correcting the primary care doctor shortage.

EDWARD VOLPINTESTA

Bethel, Conn.

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