KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Nurses Lobby For More Protections; Med School Enrollment Misses Target

News outlets are covering medical professionals: a rally to combat the nursing shortage, medical school enrollment shortfalls and internationally-trained doctors.

The Hill: "A nurses union is in Washington this week to push for legislation that will expand the profession's ranks and to urge Congress to take up a broader overhaul of the healthcare system. National Nurses United, a roughly 155,000-member union, will lobby lawmakers and march on the Capitol to push for several bills it says will help combat the nursing shortage and make patient care safer. … The nurses union is supporting legislation introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) that would establish a federal standard for a nurse-to-patient ratio at hospitals nationwide" (Bogardus, 5/10).

Capitol News Connection: "[N]urses want federal legislation to require staffing ratios comparable to those in California. This kind of legislation saves lives, says [California Nurses Association co-President Geri] Jenkins; the nurses come armed with studies to back that up." CNC adds that nurse-to-patient ratios are "a labor issue" as well (Johnson, 5/11). 

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that The Association of American Medical Colleges is going to miss its "goal of boosting first-year med school enrollment by 30% between 2002's baseline and 2015. … In its 2009 med school enrollment survey, the group's Center for Workforce Studies said enrollment will be up by 23% in 2015, to 20,281, and up a projected 30% in 2018. Enrollment at med schools and osteopathic med schools combined, however, will rise to 26,550 in 2015, up 36% from 2002. That would seem to be good news for the physician shortage, but the real bottleneck for future doctors is the number of residency slots. U.S. med school graduates vie for those spots with international graduates and osteopaths, and that competition is likely to heat up, the AAMC report says" (Hobson, 5/10).

And, The Texas Tribune writes that "[n]ewly licensed doctors enlisting to treat the state's Medicaid and Medicare patients are more likely to have been trained at international medical schools, according to a review of state medical state medical licensing data. Of the roughly 1,500 doctors who have received fast-tracked licenses in the last three years in exchange for agreeing to treat the state's neediest patients, nearly 40 percent were trained at international medical schools - everywhere from India and Mexico to Uzbekistan and Rwanda - while a quarter were trained at Texas medical schools" (Ramshaw and Stiles, 5/11).

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