Teen Med Camp

November 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
-- Our country is facing a doctor deficit. As the population ages, we'll need more doctors and surgeons. The demand for total hip and knee replacements alone is expected to double in the next 10 years, and experts predict the number of surgeons won't keep up. One program could prevent the doctor-patient gaps before they happen. "I want to be a neurosurgeon," Sarah Alam told Ivanhoe.

"I want to be a doctor," Glisairis Depena explained.

These teens are spending a day at "med camp." They trade in their free time for rubber gloves and a hands-on experience in the medical field.

It's a behind-the-scenes look at a profession likely to face dangerous deficits in the near future. One study shows by 2050, the United States will be short 6,000 general surgeons, who perform life-saving surgeries in the emergency room. Experts predict a shortage of 40,000 family physicians by 2020, and the number of heart and orthopedic surgeons is also expected to fall behind demand.

"As the population ages, we will need more doctors," Vipul Patel, M.D., urologist and medical director of the Global Robotics Institute at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Fla., told Ivanhoe.

The biggest reason for the need: baby boomers start turning 65 in 2011, requiring more medical care. Experts say to fill the gap, it helps to get students hooked early.

"At this age, you know, 14, 15, you start to make some of the key life decisions," Dr. Patel explained. "These are the stars of the future, so it's very important that we take our time working with them."

These students say they're one step closer to medical school.

"Seeing it up close makes it a little more realistic for me," Ryan Mouser told Ivanhoe.

"I thought I was going to be grossed out, but I wasn't," Glisairis Depena said.

Preparing today's young minds to meet tomorrow's health needs.

The number of U.S. medical school students going into primary care has dropped about 52-percent since 1997. A primary care doctor typically makes at most $190,000 a year while neurosurgeons make $530,000 or more.

Sara Portoghese Channing
Florida Hospital
Orlando, FL
(407) 303-8217