Waiting for the Doctor?

Posted on June 03, 2005
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We've all spent long hours in doctors' waiting rooms after waiting weeks just to get an appointment. It's no secret that Arizona has a doctor shortage. A 2001 Goldwater Institute study revealed that Arizona has 172 physicians per 100,000 residents; the recommended ratio is 195 physicians per 100,000 residents.

Some assume the shortage stems from a lack of medical schools in Arizona. That's the rationale for Governor Napolitano's approval of $7 million in first-year funding for a downtown medical school.

But as study authors Jeffrey Singer, M.D., and Craig Cantoni found, the shortage is instead due to high malpractice insurance premiums, a high rate of uninsured patients, and regulations that make it difficult and expensive for doctors to practice here. Building a new medical school at public expense does not address any of those problems.

And now comes word that a private medical school going up in Mesa will welcome 100 students to its campus, far more than the 24 students the state medical school plans to enroll.

Given the large private medical school and the state's misunderstanding of the cause of the doctor shortage, it appears the publicly-funded downtown medical school is no cure for the waiting room blues.

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