Thursday, December 13, 2007

Signing off of my beat....for now

As I post my last blog for our 8350 class, I will never read newspapers the same again. Covering the "workforce" beat and watching my classmates cover their beat has sensitized me to the enormous amount of health-related material in the media today and the need for excellent coverage.

One thing is really clear to me after this semester--there is a worldwide shortage of healthcare professionals. Little Johnny and his sister Suzie need to be urged to consider a career in healthcare and get as much education as they possibly can. That will require a strong public awareness campaign, new scholarships and incentives, and more medical and nursing schools.

Those of us in the media can help this effort too--by writing about the need, and bringing the issue front and center before our readers. That means more journalists who know how to write about it--accurately--and editors who see the need for strong placement of these articles.

All of us who had the privilege to sit under Professor Thomas and Coach Kim Davis and our numerous guest speakers this Fall owe them a debt of gratitude for their investment in our lives and careers.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Intra-Sector Cooperation Needed

Reuters reported that the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence Executive
Director Marilyn Deluca said, "Foundations, business and academia must
work together to fund programs that
get to precisely these issues, because
urses -- the unsung heroes of our health care system -- need more
champions." Marilyn, commenting on the nursing shortage is one of many
looking for innovative ways to get more nurses into the workforce.

This partnership of sorts between the academic, business, and philanthropic
community is the kind of creative solutions I think we need in our country today.
The Academic brings the best-practices and training. Business brings the
incentive, and the philanthropic community can provide avenues for people
to use their heart. Compassion is a driving force in the health care business.

In my last post, I talked about the need for more medical schools for doctors,
but the looming shortage of nurses is even worse.

Fortunately, we have an MCG (Medical College of Georgia) Nurses
School extension here in Athens.

In my very first post, I talked about the bird flu and the impact it would
have on our nurse work force. We need to take action now to get this
aspect of our work force in line with the needs of our country.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Med School Wanted...apply within!

The last couple of weeks have been exciting for me. My op-ed piece from the New Orleans trip was published on the front page of the Athens Banner Opinion Section as the "big idea." Then, I had an opportunity to talk more about it on a talk radio show in town.

If you did not get an chance to read it, go to the article here.

Getting the med school extension campus here would be so great for our community. Until then, we need to continue to recruit physicians and nurses to work in our three safety net clinics. Additionally, December is the best month of the year for non-profits to raise money. As their budgets grow, so will their staff and their ability to see more patients.

Dr. DeSalvo at Covenant House in New Orleans was blessed to have so many doctors doing their residencies there. Hopefully, with a powerful Ga. House member running against Congressman Paul Broun here in town, we will get the attention of the legislature and the money needed to jumpstart the program.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Where are all the psychitrists?

Seeing the devastation of New Orleans certainly had a sobering affect on me. I had thought after two years things would be back to normal, but boarded-up and gutted houses was what I had been warned about.

What I didn't expect to see was a lack of mental health professionals. If ever there was a supply of people needing help, it is in post-Katrina New Orleans. Read more here including Dr. Kevin Stephens' comment that "we have a lot of post-traumatic stress. We have a lot of depression. We have a lot of suicides. We have a lot of challenges in terms of mental health. And, in fact, a lot of people self-medicate by using alcohol and other drugs."

The professionals we visited certainly validated this over and over again.

In talking with one nurse at the PACE Center, she told of how people just needed to talk--to tell their story, and what they had experienced.

Learning to listen. Taking time to listen. Maybe if all of us did a better job of listening to the needs and concerns of others around us, we might help them through the difficulties they are facing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eye Doctors alive and well

Ophthalmologists spent the first 20 minutes of their annual meeting in New Orleans talking about politics—not eyes. Powerpoint slides outlined the group's lobbying efforts to stop the 10.1 percent fee cut in medicare legislation pending before the United States Senate.

Who can blame them though? These physicians went to college and medical school and did residencies and fellowships--all to have the federal government threaten yet another cut to services they provide for older Americans in particular: cataract surgery, AMD treatment, and Glaucoma.

They quickly moved on to the latest procedures, drugs, and experiments that will prevent blindness, and help Americans be able to see better and longer: something they would rather be doing than lobbying the US Congress.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dentists are in the health workforce too

Dental, or oral health, is often overlooked. Would it surprise you to know that tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease; five times more common than asthma. Untreated tooth decay has been associated with eating, learning and speech problems and diminished self-esteem in children, a Kansas website reported Saturday.

The Mercy Clinic has a "dental day" every Friday for those who qualify. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Dentists in the Athens area have been more responsive than doctors at giving their time to the Mercy Clinic. With dental work like "fillings" and "root canals" being very expensive these days, this is a wonderful service to provide.

The American Dental Association has a ton of reports on the state of the dental workforce in America. See more at

Dental insurance policies are usually not a great deal, and most people do not have them. Therefore, we often wait to go to the dentist when there is problem. When is the last time you had your teeth cleaned? Maybe you should make that appointment this week.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Health Care Down Under

"There is a workforce crisis, not only affecting emergency specialists but also surgeons, psychiatrists, rural doctors, nurses and other health workers. We need to know that there is a workforce plan. At present there is none because politicians don't know what sort of health service to provide," said Dr. Tony Joseph, an Australian physician on Friday.

Government-run health care is ultimately politician-run health care, and bringing this to the US is not going to solve all of our problems. We need to look carefully at what is happening in Australia, Canada and Europe before we assume that this is best for America. All of us in this great country need to work and advocate for the health and welfare of our fellow man. Our class speakers and articles continue to show us the great need out there. Saying healthcare is a "right" and then tasking the government with delivering it is one solution, but maybe not the best.

Maybe the next 8350 class can take a trip to Canada or Italy and see first hand if government run health care is all it is cracked up to be.

In other health workforce news, women doctors are on the rise in Canada. From 2002 to 2006, females in the workforce increased 13 percent compared to only one percent for males. Wow, this sounds like Public Relations here in the US. Women are taking over.

Read more about what is happening in Canada here. In fact, the study referenced shows that women in Canada make up over 48 percent of physicians under the age of 40.

Note to females in class--no hidden message here.