Attrition: USN Takes On The MD Shortage


December30, 2006: The U.S. Navy, as part of its downsizing effort, is cutting medical personnel more sharply than other specialties. Some 20 percent (1,400 people) of corpsmen ("medics", who serve with the marines, as well as providing a lot of the medical care on ships and in military hospitals) will be cut, in addition to 700 medical officer (doctors) jobs (some of them unfilled at the moment). Some of these people will no longer be needed because of the general downsizing of the navy, but most will be replaced by civilians, who will provide care for dependents and bases in the United States.

This will mean a higher proportion of remaining medics and medical officers will be assigned to ships. This new plan also recognizes the long-standing problems recruiting enough doctors. When the draft ended thirty years ago, that meant that the military could no longer draft doctors (which was common for newly minted MDs.) Since the draft ended, the military has offered scholarships to medical students willing to serve in the military after graduation. But even this has not been enough to get all the doctors needed. The military has had to pay expensive bonuses to persuade doctors to stay in the military. Cutting a lot of MD positions, and using more civilian doctors, eases up some of this recruiting and retention pressure.


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