Medical Education Law

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Have You Received a Letter from the ECFMG or USMLE Accusing You of Irregular Behavior? All Is Not Lost; Legal Advice Is as Close as a Phone Call Away!

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Have you recently received a letter from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) or the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat accusing you of “irregular behavior?” All is not lost. But you should seek advice from an attorney or law firm that has a lot of experience with such matters, before responding or doing anything else.

If You Are Innocent or Have a Believable Explanation to Justify What You Are Being Accused of Doing, You Need to Defend Yourself Against the Accusations of “Irregular Behavior.”

Yes, it is possible to successfully defend yourself against accusations of “irregular behavior.” However, we do not suggest that you should attempt to represent yourself or do this on your own. In any letter you receive on this will be advised of your rights to make a statement explaining your side, to have a hearing committee consider the matter, to appear in person before the hearing committee, and to have legal representation (an attorney) at the hearing with you to represent you. We recommend that you always ask for an exercise all of these rights.

It has been our experience that those individuals who think that they can just write a letter and explain what happened will usually not succeed. A full investigation has already been conducted by the USMLE or ECFMG and it will feel that it has already adequately explored and discovered all of the facts in your case.

It is our advice that you must always find out exactly what evidence or information the organization has against you and you must appear in person and testify under oath at a hearing at which the committee can ask you questions in order to show your honesty and innocence.

As Attorneys Experienced in Such Matters, We Know How to Prepare and Present Cases to Such Hearing Committees and to Successfully Convince Them of Your Position.

Our law firm and our attorneys have had a great deal of experience in dealing with the ECFMG and the USMLE on issues involving grading on the Step examinations, accusations of “irregular behavior,” testing and grading irregularities, and allegations regarding conduct which the organizations contends is “irregular behavior” (including mistakes in completing applications and affidavits). We haven’t represented many medical students and medical graduates in challenges, hearings before the committees, and on appeals.

Although, just as in medicine, in legal matters such as this one, we cannot guarantee any specific outcome or success in a case, we can advise you of our many successful cases. Finding any lawyer in the United States who has a great deal of prior experience with the USMLE or the ECFMG is very difficult. There are very, very few of us. Additionally, once you check out the backgrounds of any attorney whom you are considering, you may find that the particular attorney is not what you expect or would desire to hire. You want to hire attorneys that have a great deal of experience in this area, who know what they are doing, and who will not exaggerate or promise you that which they are not able to deliver.

Experience, Organization, and Knowledge are the Hallmarks of Our Legal Representation of You!

In our case, we tell the truth, we know what the “hot” issues are that are important to the ECFMG he and the USMLE, and we are aggressive advocates of your innocence or your position in the case. We prepare ahead of time and put together a comprehensive, detailed, and well organized presentation, through documents, which we deliver to the committee ahead of time for its consideration at your hearing. We always go to the hearing in Philadelphia, appearing with you in person at the hearing, and making the best presentation possible for you. We are by your side allo the way!

We do our best to prepare you ahead of time, going over potential questions that the committee might ask you and preparing your testimony in advance. We try not to leave anything to chance. If you are subject of a similar type of hearing, or court case, then you really do need experienced legal counsel to help you prepare. You should not try to do this alone.

Severe Consequences of Receiving a Label of “Irregular Behavior.”

There can be some very severe consequences of receiving a label of “irregular behavior,” if you do not adequately defend against such allegations. These can extend all the way from a stamp on the transcript of your Step examination scores stating “irregular behavior,” with a letter attached to it going into great detail about your “irregular behavior,” all the way to a complete ban (forever) from taking any further Step examinations, and everything in between. Even the stamp of “irregular behavior” alone can prevent you from successfully matching with residencies you are seeking or obtaining jobs you desire. This is similar to having a stamp of “Found Guilty of Cheating” on a transcript; the effect may be the same. You may find yourself being excluded from receiving interviews or invitations from residency program for which you apply.

Do not take a chance! Although legal representation may be expensive, you must consider the amount of time and money you have already spent to date to have a medical career and be willing to spend what it takes to continue that career. Don’t jeopardize it by trying to scrimp on legal fees. Remember that you usually get what you pay for.

View Our Other Blogs on Our Experience with the USMLE, ECFMG, and NBME, and Hearings on “Irregular Behavior.”

Our law firm is had a great deal of experience representing students and graduates in disputes with and defending charges of “irregular behavior” against the USMLE, ECFMG and he NBME. To review a few of these please see:
Limits on Number of Attempts and Time for Completion of USMLE Step Exams and
ECFMG Affidavit to Complete? Attending a Caribbean Medical School? Being Investigated for Irregular behavior by the ECFMG or USMLE? You need Legal Advice! Your Residency Matching Might Now Be at Issue, as Well!

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Contracting 101: Medical Graduates Entering the Workforce, Follow These Tips!

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

This is part one, of a blog series that is intended to provide an introductory review of the basics of contracting for medical graduates entering the work force as residents and fellows, primarily by discussing employment agreements. We will highlight many of the common provisions found in employment contracts, along with many of the mistakes and pitfalls that we see in our day-to-day practice.

By the end of this informational blog, it is our hope that medical graduates will better understand the common language and terms found in employment contracts for health care professionals. The following tips are meant to assist new professionals in recognizing common mistakes made by physicians and health professionals when negotiating contract terms. We hope to help make both employers and employees more knowledgeable about employment contracts so they can avoid potential problem areas and legal entanglements.

Our comments here are meant to provide general rules we have learned from our experience. However, please remember, every situation is different and there are exceptions to every rule. These tips are not intended to constitute legal advice. We recommend contacting an experienced health attorney for questions or concerns regarding specific employment contracts, or to thoroughly review all of the contract terms prior to acceptance.

Tip 1 -“Standard” or “Routine” Physician Employment Agreements Do Not Exist.

No two employment agreements are identical. Each must be reviewed on its own terms. It is important to consult with a healthcare lawyer experienced in negotiating employment contracts and evaluating health care business transactions.

Tip 2 – Negotiation is Always an Option.

Even though an employer may have what appears to be a “standard” employment contract for all physician employees, this can have changes, amendments, schedules, exhibits or terms that are varied from physician to physician or professional to professional. Generally, large employers are less likely to change their form to accommodate the physician than small organizations, but they can and often will. Small employers are often willing to make more changes to their written agreements.

If there are any changes, additions or clarifications you need to make to the contract, then put them in writing, sign them, incorporate them into the contract and attach them to the contract.

Tip 3 – All Oral Agreements Should be Accurately Reflected in the Wording of the Contract.

If it is different or not specified, the language in the contract will govern in any future dispute.

For more information, please read one of my prior blogs on physician and employment contracts here.

In our future blogs, we will continue to provide tips on various issues to watch for in health care employment contracts.

Stay tunes for part two of this blog series.

Contact a Health Care Attorney that is Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in the following areas: in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters, reviewing and negotiating contracts, preparing contracts, helping employers and employees enforce contracts, advice on setting aside or voiding contracts, litigation of contracts (in start or federal court), business transactions, professional license defense, opinion letters, representation in investigations, fair hearing defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, litigation of restrictive covenant (covenants not to compete).

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: physician employment agreement, physician employment contract, health professional contracting, negotiating business transactions, physician contracts, contracting tips for medical graduates, contract attorney, business law attorney, business lawyer, contract lawyer, contract litigation, business litigation, employment contract terms, physician agreements, physicians entering the workforce, business transactions, restrictive covenants, noncompetition agreements, covenants not to compete, business ventures, residency and fellowship, medical graduate attorney, fellowship contract lawyer,Graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, health care professional representation, health care professional defense lawyer, Florida health care lawyer, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

ECFMG Affidavit to Complete? Attending a Caribbean Medical School? Being Investigated for Irregular behavior by the ECFMG or USMLE? You need Legal Advice! Your Residency Matching Might Now Be at Issue, as Well!

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Have you recently unexpectedly received an affidavit from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG or the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat? Are you attending or have you graduated from a Caribbean medical School such as the University of Science, Art and Technology (USAT), Faculty of Medicine, in Montserrat, or the Atlantic University School of Medicine (AUSOM) in St. Lucia? Then you are probably, unknowingly, being investigated for misconduct, improprieties in your medical school attendance or other “irregular behavior.” You need to consult with a lawyer and specifically a lawyer who knows and understands the processes followed by the ECFMG and the USMLE.

Large Number of Legal Inquiries Being Received from Current Students and Graduates of USAT.

A year ago, our firm was receiving a large number of calls from students and graduates of the Atlantic University School of Medicine (AUSOM) concerning inquiries and letters they were receiving from the ECFMG and/or the USMLE. However, over the past several months, we have now received an even larger number of inquiries from students and alumni of the University of Arts, Technology and Sciences (USAT) Faculty of Medicine in Montserrat. We have now seen several different affidavits which the ECF image he has sent to students and graduates of USAT which request some very specific and detailed information about their course attendance and experience as students at USAT.

Each inquiry we have received from students and graduates of USAT has disclosed facts and circumstances that are slightly different from the other. From these we have been able to piece together a fairly comprehensive picture of what is probably going on. To summarize, it appears that you SAT is under investigation by the ECF image he for the various irregularities that our clients have disclosed have occurred in the past.

Affidavits from the ECFMG and the USMLE Should Be Taken Very Seriously. They Should Be Answered Truthfully and Must Be Returned Promptly.

The Handbook and Guidelines published by the ECFMG and the USMLE, require that any student or graduate who applies for their services must promptly respond to requests for information. This would include responding to the affidavits (which are really questionnaires to be completed under oath). Otherwise, the applicant can be charged by the ECFMG or the USMLE with “irregular behavior” in accordance with the Handbook and Guidelines that they previously agreed to follow when initially applying.

We hear from our callers, clients, and potential clients that they may have received instructions from their schools or from other sources that they do not have to do send these affidavits back in or respond to these requests for information. We do not believe that this is correct and vice. If confronted by having been sent such an inquiry or affidavit by the USEMLE or ECFMG, you should immediately contact competent, experienced, legal counsel to advise you on the exact issues and facts of the situation. You will only receive advice that takes your own personal interests into consideration from your own personal attorney; you are not likely to receive it from anyone else.

View Our Other Blogs on Our Experience with the USMLE, ECFMG, and NBME, and Hearings on “Irregular Behavior.”

Our law firm is had a great deal of experience representing students and graduates in disputes with and defending charges of “irregular behavior” against the USMLE, ECFMG and he NBME. To review a few of these please see:
What to Do If You Receive an Inquiry From the USMLE, ECFMG, or NBME
GOING TO TAKE THE USMLE STEP EXAMS? BEWARE OF ACTIONS THAT CAN BE CALLED “IRREGULAR BEHAVIOR”-PART 1, and
Accused of Irregular Behavior on the USMLE? Here’s What You Will Do Wrong.

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620

KeyWords: Graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, legal dispute with medical school, medical students legal counsel, disruptive physician attorney, impaired medical student legal counsel, impaired resident legal defense attorney, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) defense lawyer, USMLE defense attorney, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) defense counsel, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defense lawyer, ECFMG defense attorney, legal representation for USMLE investigations, legal representation for NBME investigations, legal representation for irregular behavior, irregular behavior defense attorney, irregular behavior defense counsel, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Philadelphia attorney for ECFMG hearing, Philadelphia lawyer for NBME hearing, Philadelphia legal counsel for USMLE hearing

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

What to Do If You Receive an Inquiry From the USMLE, ECFMG, or NBME

By Achal A. Aggarwal, J.D., M.B.A., Attorney, The Health Law Firm

The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) is an organization that sets certain standards for anyone seeking licensure in the U.S. It prepares and administers state recognized examinations for medical students and medical residents, to assure they meet certain requirements for clinical knowledge (CK) and ability to interact effectively with patient using the English language, the latter know as “clinical skills” (CK). The NBME’s mission is centered on the assessment of physicians. The NBME develops and manages the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) through the USMLE Secretariat.

The USMLE is a multi-part professional examination sponsored by the NBME and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). In order to obtain a license to practice medicine or to participate in medical specialty residency programs in the U.S., one must take and successfully pass all four parts of the USMLE. Each part of the USMLE is referred to as a “step.”

Foreign medical graduates must register with and be screened by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), in order to take the USMLE step examinations and become licensed in the U.S. They must also pass all of the steps of the USMLE.

The USMLE is administered in four parts: USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS), and the USMLE Step 3.

When a medical student or medical resident is suspected of compromising the validity, integrity, or security of the examination process, the USMLE and the NBME will investigate. The investigation is to determine whether or not that student or resident obtained proprietary information or helped others to cheat on the USMLE.

The Consequences of Irregular Behavior Charges.

When the USMLE, NBME, or ECFMG has initially determined that a student, medical school graduate, resident or fellow, may have committed some act that may have violated the integrity of the examination, may have attempted to gain an unfair advantage over other test-takers, or may have violated the security of the test, then it will charge that student or resident with what is called “irregular behavior.” This term could probably be interchanged with the word “cheating” but is much broader than and may encompass far more than what you would normally think of as cheating.

A charge of irregular behavior can have many unforeseen adverse consequences. Not only can these be adverse actions taken by the NBME, USMLE, or ECFMG, they may extend even wider.
The NBME, USMLE, or ECFMG may, for example void test scores, prohibit you from taking a test exam for a number of years, ban you from ever taking the step exams again, or may simply mark your transcript of test scores with the finding of “Irregular Behavior” (think of a big red stamp on your transcript that says “Irregular Behavior” or “Cheated”). However, such a finding may also result in the student’s being expelled from their medical school, not receiving a medical degree, or prevented from applying in the match program.

However, before the medical student or resident is officially charged with committing irregular behavior, the USMLE, NBME, or ECFMG sends a letter informing the individual of the charge and giving the person ceratin rights. The letter also offers the student or resident an opportunity to defend the allegation and attend a hearing in front of a committee (usually called the “Committee for Individualized Review” or CIR) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

What to Do If You Receive a Letter from the USMLE Accusing You of Irregular Behavior.

The letter will usually include certain information and analysis including: the number of times the student or resident took the particular Step examination previously, the percentage of actual test questions to which the student was exposed, how well other test-takers did on the same individual questions, the time spent on the questions, the actions the person allegedly committed which violated the organization’s guidelines, and other information that may be relevant regarding the alleged “Irregular Behavior.”

Details on the rights the individual has to retake the tests or to challenge the findings by requesting a hearing is also included. These are contained in a section of the letter or in a separate attachment called “Policies and Procedures.”

If requested in writing in a timely manner, the CIR will schedule a time to review the facts surrounding the allegations (a hearing) and to hear from the individual. The person may just submit an explanation in writing without requesting an in-person hearing, but we recommend strongly against this. The student or resident may request and attend a hearing before the committee, in person or with an attorney (which we strongly recommend), if he or she so desires. The hearing takes place in Philadelphia.

Evidence may be submitted by the student, including his or her own testimony. The student may have legal representation (an attorney) with him or her at the hearing. Hearings have resulted in students having their test scores validated and being allowed to progress with their professional careers unfettered. They have also resulted in bans from ever retaking the step exams (in the most egregious cases).

Important Factors to Consider for a Hearing Before the Committee for Individualized Review.

Attending a hearing before the CIR is not a process that should be taken lightly, not is it a procedure that you should attempt without experienced counsel. We do not recommend attending such a hearing without an attorney and plenty of advance preparation.

When deciding whether or not to hire an attorney to represent you in this matter, consider the cost and time you expended in preparing for and taking these examinations. In addition, consider the time you will lose from your medical education, residency, internship, or future career if your passing scores are not validated and your studies and career are delayed. It seems illogical not to retain the services of an attorney experienced with this type of matter and this type of hearing, given the high stakes at issue. Even if you have some knowledge of law, evidence, and civil procedure, it is difficult to represent yourself while also being your own witness. Those who are not experienced in such matters will make fundamental mistakes that will harm their case.

Procedural guidelines furnished by the committee need to be followed regarding how evidence is given to the committee and presented at the hearing. Preparation for the hearing would include meetings in advance, preparation of questions and answers and other matters to help ensure a proper presentation. One who is not familiar with such proceedings may overlook key issues and concentrate on issues that are not relevant to the committee’s determination. Any presentation of documents for consideration at the hearing must include excellent organization and a professional presentation. This must be done well in advance of the hearing. In certain cases, it may be necessary to hire an expert witness if the issues and facts require it; however, live witnesses, other than the individual charged, are not allowed at the hearing. It is important to note that the CIR will have its own attorney present at the hearing and there are several attorneys who may be on the committee itself.

Finally, anyone with a charge of irregular behavior should remember that the CIR is not comprised of individuals who are “on your side.” The CIR’s purpose is to ensure that the USMLE policies and procedures are strictly enforced and will enforce them if it does not find your case convincing. The best way to make your strongest argument is to hire someone who has experience with CIR hearings and has won cases in front of it.

Everyone needs someone on their side and we strongly encourage you to hire someone who knows the process associated with Irregular Behavior and the CIR and who will fight for your right to defend yourself.

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: Achal A. Aggarwal is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, legal dispute with medical school, medical students legal counsel, disruptive physician attorney, impaired medical student legal counsel, impaired resident legal defense attorney, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) defense lawyer, USMLE defense attorney, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) defense counsel, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defense lawyer, ECFMG defense attorney, legal representation for USMLE investigations, legal representation for NBME investigations, legal representation for irregular behavior, irregular behavior defense attorney, irregular behavior defense counsel, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Philadelphia attorney for ECFMG hearing, Philadelphia lawyer for NBME hearing, Philadelphia legal counsel for USMLE hearing

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

New Analysis Shows Number of Residency Positions Keeping Up With Increase in Medical Graduates

i4Perfection150429-1A6A0291-Edit-EditBy Ritisha K. Chhaganlal, J.D.
According to a study done by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the number of students enrolling in medical schools has reached an all-time high.

In 2014, the total number of applicants rose by 3.1 percent. AAMC President, Darrel G. Kirch M.D., expressed concerns regarding the availability of residency training positions for aspiring doctors. Dr. Kirch stated: “As we face a worsening shortage of both primary and speciality physicians over the next two decades, Congress must increase federal support for residency training by lifting the 17-year-old cap on residency training positions imposed under the Balanced Budget Act.” To read the AAMC’s press release in its entirety, click here.

It is unsurprising that medical students across the nation are concerned about securing a residency position after graduation. However, an analysis conducted by The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) suggests that this General Medical Education (GME) “squeeze” is actually not as severe as many believe.

History Behind Medicare Resident Limit Caps.

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) was established to cap the number of residents and fellows for the purposes of calculating Medicare reimbursements against each hospital’s most recent cost report. There are a few exceptions; the BBA cap on the number of residents does not apply to new programs in underserved rural areas for three years. After three years, these programs are considered to have enough time to fill their residency cohorts.

The Medicare program is the largest source of funding for GME. Given this limit of funding, many believe that it will also limit the number of residents and fellows.

Analysis Indicates Growth in Entry-Level GME Positions.

The NEJM studied data from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), AAMC, and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), for the time periods of 2004-2005 and 2013-2014. The NEJM found that entry-level GME positions increased from roughly 25,000 in 2004-2005, to about 29,000 in 2013-2014. This is a total increase of approximately 4,000 positions. Additionally, the number of U.S. graduates with M.D. and D.O. degrees grew from about 19,000 in 2004-2005, to roughly 23,000 in 2013-2014. This is an increase of approximately 4,000 graduates.

If the number of GME positions increases as it has been over the past decade, it is projected that there will be approximately 34,000 positions for medical graduates entering their first year of residency in 2023-2024. The number of medical students is expected to increase due to newly opened M.D. and D.O. schools. As a result, it is assumed by AAMC that a 2.4% annual growth of medical graduates will continue onto 2023-2024.

In 2023-2024, the number of graduates projected will be marginally more than 29,500. With these numbers, there will be approximately 4,500 more open positions for residency than U.S. medical graduates in 2023-2024. While the number of positions available to graduates compared to 2013-2014 is less, the amount of GME positions will still significantly exceed the amount of U.S. medical graduates.

What Does this Mean for Medical Graduates?

Although the amount of GME positions will exceed the amount of medical graduates, the gap is still narrowing over the years. Over the past 50 years, medical graduates benefitted from “selection subsidy,” which allowed them to start residency at the location and in the speciality of their own choosing. However, the likelihood of a medical graduate finding the exact location and speciality he or she desires may not be an option anymore. Despite this, the most intense competition for these residency positions lies amongst the International Medical Graduates (IMGs). Although U.S. graduates will be affected by this slight “squeeze,” IMGs face an overall tougher road. To read one of our previous blogs focusing on future physicians, click here.

Comments?

Do you think there is not enough residency positions to meet the influx of medical graduates? Do you think Congress should fund more GME positions in order to create a larger margin for U.S. graduates?

Contact a Health Care Attorney that is Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such indiviuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Vernon, Jamila. “More Students Going to Medical School Than Ever Before.” AAMC. October 29, 2015. Web.

“Why a GME Squeeze in UNlikely.” NEJM. November 4, 2015. Web.

“Medicare Resident Limits.” AAMC. Web.

“US Residency Training Before and After the 1997 Balanced Budget Act.” JAMA. September 10, 2008. Web.

About the Author: Ritisha K. Chhaganlal, J.D., is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.

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By |2015-12-10T19:18:12+00:00May 15th, 2018|Medical Education Law|0 Comments