Medical schools in Iowa and across the country are accepting more applicants into their programs in order to meet the growing demand for doctors as a result of the Affordable Care Act. However, residency opportunities for doctors after they graduate medical school remain stagnant, according to Dr. J.D. Polk, Dean of Des Moines University’s Medical School.
“Although we’ve been increasing the number of medical students to try and meet the demands for the Affordable Care Act, the supply chain is coming through for medical students, but there are not an increase in residencies,” Dr. Polk says. “Right now, there’s roughly about 26,000 first-year residency slots and about 37,000 people applying for them. So, there’s really a mismatch.”
The number of residencies available for medical school graduates has been capped in Iowa since 1997. Polk attributes the lack of expansion to lack of funding. Most medical residency programs in Iowa are funded through Medicare dollars. “I think it really comes down to finances,” he says. “Without those Medicare dollars to help supplement and build a residency, it’s very hard for hospitals who have a slim margin to finance those on their own.”
Polk made his comments on Iowa Public Radio’s program “River to River.”