CLEVELAND -- Over the next few years, access to healthcare is going to be available to tens of thousands of Americans because of the Affordable Healthcare Act.
So as the number of patients grows another problem is coming to light; the shrinking number of family practice doctors available to provide the care needed. Christine Alexander, M.D., a family doctor at MetroHealth Medical Center, said the situation is serious.
"We are just headed really, kind of quickly into a crisis sort-of situation," she said.
"We say it's kind of cradle to grave medicine, because we can take care of kids, we can deliver babies, we can take care of adults, and grandparents, and pretty much everything in between. It's really one-stop-shopping," said Dr. Alexander.
Family doctors, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, make $135,000 less annually than a doctor who chooses a sub-specialty.
According to the group's projections by the year 2020 America will have 39,000 fewer family doctors than are needed to serve patients.
Kirtishri Mishra is a second-year-medical student at Case Western Reserve University. He says the high cost of medical school and paying off student loans is something constantly on soon-to-be-doctors minds.
"There are people who are always interested in doing family care, from day one, they say, I want to be a family medicine doc, and that's what I want to do regardless of how much money they are making this is just what they want to do," Mishra said, "but what I have noticed is that as those conversations come up more and usually those converstations would end with 'well you don't get paid enough and you are going to an expensive medical school, will you really be able to pay this off?' And that is where the conversation used to end before. But, I think, now more and more you are starting to see a counter with 'there are programs that will help you pay for it and offset a lot of the cost," he explained.