The current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed disparities in almost all areas of healthcare. One of the most critical is the need for more physicians to practice in New Jersey, not just within the specialties demanded to treat coronavirus, but in primary care: internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology.
As chief medical officer for Holy Name Medical Center, one of my most important responsibilities is to recruit new skilled physicians to come here to northern New Jersey to practice once they have completed their specialized residency training. However, since 1997, an outdated cap on the number of medical residencies available in our state has caused many graduates of New Jersey medical schools to leave the state to complete their training elsewhere. Once they leave, it is harder to get them back. Statistically, wherever physicians do their residency training, they are more likely to put down roots and continue to practice.
I am pleased to report that we are turning a corner on medical residency training in New Jersey with the December passage by Congress of the federal Supporting Graduate Medical Education at Community Hospitals Act. This important legislation will allow Holy Name to start an academic program with as many as 100 residency slots. This will allow us to attract and retain the most qualified physicians to our state.
In 2021 alone, New Jersey is expected to experience a dearth of 2,800 new doctors. Our state’s need for qualified physicians is quickly outpacing our supply. Within 10 years, our state and the rest of the U.S. will face a total shortfall of up to 120,000 physicians, caused in part by increased patient demand from an aging population, a retiring physician workforce, and the current pandemic, which is creating physician burn-out.
Opening up a Physician Pipeline
This act also expands opportunities for students from several medical schools to do their clinical rotations within various Holy Name facilities, including our residential hospice, Villa Marie Claire in Saddle River, NJ.
An expanded physician training program will enable us to educate new providers in the “Holy Name way,” with a holistic focus that puts patients at the center of all we do, and also supports their families, with compassionate care from before birth to the end of life.
Over the past year, as Holy Name was one of the hardest hit hospitals and the epicenter of New Jersey’s 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, we used innovation, ingenuity, flexibility, and talent to care for our patients and safeguard our staff. Our nimbleness in reacting to the pandemic, and our ability to introduce clinical trials and breakthrough treatments here, has created an incredible learning environment for new doctors.
Rebuilding the WorkforceTraining more medical residents is critical for our communities, especially as we get through this year and look to rebuild our post-pandemic workforce. Expanding our medical education program will also lead to additional jobs in program leadership, administrative support, and clinical operations.
We are confident that once these new physicians come here, they will make New Jersey their permanent home after residency. We are also confident that many will join our Holy Name medical staff because this place is different, and we are poised to show new doctors why.
Dr. Adam Jarrett is also the author of “In the Time of COVID: One Hospital’s Struggles and Triumphs.” He received his medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine in 1989, and he completed his residency in internal medicine/primary care at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical College in 1993. He earned his master of science degree in health care management at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service in 2004.
Dr. Jarrett is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including being named a “Top Doctor” by several NJ and NY publications. He is also a regular medical contributor for national and local broadcast networks and print media, providing commentary on medical topics and public health policy, in addition to sharing insights on the COVID-19 pandemic.