The Obama administration is set to expand medical school residencies to cover both public and private programs, but the changes may not be enough to satisfy all medical students, especially those who are in graduate programs.
As part of the plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Wednesday that it is adding a new category of medical degree programs, called elective residencies, to its list of qualifying programs.
The announcement comes just days after the Trump administration released its budget proposal, which would make the expanded residencies possible, but also includes a number of other proposals aimed at diversifying the nation’s medical education.
Health Secretary Tom Price announced the change in a memo Wednesday afternoon, stating that medical students are “entrenched in their medical training,” but also noting that the changes could create a competitive environment for students who are currently enrolled in other types of programs.
“The changes announced today are aimed at expanding the eligibility for residencies in medical education, allowing our graduates to complete their residency training while they pursue their medical education goals,” Price wrote.
The move comes amid a growing number of medical programs seeking to diversify the medical workforce, and some medical schools have expressed concern about the new changes.
For example, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the nations largest medical society, issued a statement in November that said the proposed changes could “lead to a shortage of primary care physicians, thereby causing unnecessary harm.”
The AMA also issued a letter to Congress earlier this month, urging Congress to “strongly consider” changes to medical education to ensure that “emergency physicians and other physicians are prepared to take up residency positions.”
The Department of Education, however, has not yet released a proposal for the changes.