KNAU and Arizona News
5:00 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Doctor Shortages Cause Delays for the V.A.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country are experiencing a lack of doctors. As Arizona Public Radio’s Parker Olson reports, the situation is causing delays at these facilities.

The Northern Arizona V.A. Health Care in Flagstaff.
The Northern Arizona V.A. Health Care in Flagstaff.
Credit prescott.va.gov


According to several national physician organizations, the U.S. is experiencing a significant shortage of doctors. James Johnson, the director of quality for the Northern Arizona V.A. Health Care System, says the federal agency has been hit especially hard by the lack of medical professionals.

“We’re nationally in a situation where we have a huge increase in demand for healthcare and we haven’t kept pace with that with the amount of physicians available,” Johnson says.

These facilities are specifically searching for primary-care doctors. Michael Grossman is the associate dean of graduate medical education for the University of Arizona’s Phoenix programs.

“I think part of the difficulties reside in the fact that when most medical students graduate they are in significant debt, upward of a quarter-million dollars. And, right now the way the healthcare system is, primary care docs do not make a whole lot of money,” Grossman says.

Johnson says more physicians are needed to reduce wait times for veterans. He also says doctors who can spend more time with patients would increase quality of care.