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Recruiters say why it’s getting tougher to hire primary care doctors

A greater number of older patients has increased demand for primary care doctors while an aging physician population has dampened the supply. The situation, amplified by a growing emphasis on primary care services, is making primary care physician jobs more difficult to fill, according to physician recruiters. “We’re seeing a shift back to the importance of primary care, but there are not enough of them,” said Shelley Tudor, a board member of the Assn. of Staff Physician Recruiters. “Health systems have to take a different approach to recruiting.” Primary care physician positions took 151 days to fill in 2011, up from 125 in 2010 and 115 in 2009, according to the annual benchmarking report the Assn. of Staff Physician Recruiters released Oct. 10. About 150 in-house recruiters with hospitals, health systems and large medical groups participate each year. These staffers usually work to attract physicians for employed positions, although they sometimes have independent pos ...

Oddsmakers predict sequestration and SGR delay

White House and congressional officials in Washington have acknowledged that the large federal budget cuts and tax increases set for early 2013 probably won’t happen. The fiscal cliff, which includes significant cuts to Medicare and other federal health programs, could be avoided through temporary fixes after the presidential election on Nov. 6. Lawmakers appear to be leaning toward punting these issues to the next Congress, as a lame-duck session is unlikely to draft and pass comprehensive legislation to address the underlying fiscal problems permanently. The subject of the roughly $1 trillion in across-the-board cuts known as the sequester was discussed at the Oct. 23 presidential debate on foreign policy. President Obama, who debated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Boca Raton, Fla., stated that sequestration was not going to be implemented. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney later told reporters that the sequester was designed as a mechanism to compel Congres ...

State’s flu-shot mandate for health workers 1st of its kind in nation

Rhode Island, the nation’s smallest state, has taken a big step toward protecting the public’s health by mandating that all health care workers who have direct contact with patients be vaccinated against seasonal influenza. The requirement, issued by the Rhode Island Dept. of Health, marks the nation’s first statewide mandate of flu shots for health professionals. In other states, flu vaccine mandates have been set by individual employers, such as hospitals and health care centers. The Rhode Island mandate took effect Oct. 26, as the 2012-13 flu season was starting. State health officials hope the move will lead to a shorter flu season with fewer people infected. “Those who care for and interact with patients in a health care setting have a duty to protect the health and safety of those for whom they care,” said Michael Fine, MD, director of the health department. “A flu shot for all those who interact with patients as part of their employment or volunteer efforts ...