Monday, July 11, 2011

The Afternoon Drill: July 11, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments for your day.

Shortage of Physicians, APNs, PAs Predicted for 2025

Advanced practice nurses (APNs) and physician assistants (PAs) are frequently touted as the solution to the physician shortage, but there will not be enough of all 3 professionals combined to meet the nation's healthcare needs in 2025, according to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Lead author Michael Sargen, a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and coauthors write that although the United States needs to expand the workforce of these 3 types of "advanced clinicians," healthcare personnel with less training must assume more patient care responsibilities, especially as more Americans gain insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Right now, the nation fields close to 300 advanced clinicians for every 100,000 Americans. That number is roughly 7% less than needed, based on the demand for services, which the authors extrapolate from healthcare spending. The authors write that if training programs for PAs and APNs — which include nurse practitioners — grow as currently projected while physician residency programs fail to expand, the per capita supply of advanced clinicians in 2025 will resemble the current level.

However, the workforce of 2025 in this scenario will be 20% less than needed because of burgeoning demand for services. The authors cite government studies that forecast a 65% increase in healthcare spending from 2009 to 2025 based on its historic growth rate of 2.5% above the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The healthcare reform law aims to reduce that growth rate to 1% above GDP, the authors write, but even if reformers hit this target, demand for services will still outstrip the supply of advanced clinicians.

Coauthor Richard Cooper, MD, an authority on physician workforce issues and a professor at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, chalks up the continued rise in spending not only to costly technologies but also to the sheer proliferation of new therapies.

"Research is finding ways to treat diseases that were once untreatable," Dr. Cooper told Medscape Medical News. "We once didn't treat lung cancer. Now we do. We don't treat Alzheimer's disease now, but we will in the future."

Quitting Smoking When Newly Pregnant Same as Never Smoking

Women with a newly confirmed pregnancy now have extra incentive to quit smoking, according to the results of the largest study to date looking at the effect of smoking on pregnancy outcomes.

"There's now a second clear message," said senior investigator Nick Macklon, MD, professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Southampton and director of the Complete Fertility Centre, also in Southampton, United Kingdom.

"Not only that smoking is bad for pregnancy, but...women who take the effort to stop even as late as when their pregnancy has been confirmed can achieve birth weights which are the same as if they had never smoked."

Dental worker admits plot to steal customers' personal info to get credit cards

A worker at a dental business faces up to a year in federal prison after she admitted giving customers' personal information to a relative who used it to get credit cards in her name.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Claudine Jones of Cahokia pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis to conspiracy and making a false statement.

As part of her plea, Jones admitted supplying a cousin with personal information about roughly 10 Dental Network of America customers.

Those details, including Social Security numbers and birthdates, then were used by someone to get five credit cards on which $3,700 was charged.

Dental Hygienist named Miss Massachusetts 2011

Molly Whalen, 20, of Middleboro, was selected as Miss Massachusetts 2011 Saturday at the 72nd annual Miss Massachusetts Scholarship Pageant in Worcester.

Competing as Miss Taunton, she was chosen from among 15 contestants at the Hanover Theatre. She will receive more than $8,500 in scholarships, and will compete at the Miss America Pageant in January in Las Vegas.

Whalen is a 2011 graduate of Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene. A 2008 graduate of Coyle and Cassidy High School in Taunton, she is the daughter of Robert and Maureen Whalen of Middleboro.

During her year of service, she will highlight her platform "Smart Smiles: Promoting the Importance of Oral Health" as well as promoting The Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, the national platform of the Miss America Organization.

Enjoy your afternoon!

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