Abortion bans could push young doctors out, study finds


Medical students argue that strict abortion laws prevent them from pursuing medical careers in states where abortion is prohibited.

The results of the survey, which focused on third- and fourth-year medical students, followed the June 2022 Supreme Court Dobbs ruling, which overturned the Law V. Wade decision that had granted rights for nearly 50 years. It is derived from a survey conducted overAbortions are happening across America

States with bans on abortion are reluctant to become trainees (young doctors who graduate from medical school and train in hospitals and clinics), which could exacerbate health care shortages in many parts of the country. be.

The survey’s findings reflect the sentiments of physicians who plan not only to become obstetricians and gynecologists in the future, but also to pursue other specialties such as surgery or internal medicine, said Emory University School of Medicine, which conducted the survey. said Ariana Traub, a third-year medical student. investigation.

“The most important data we found was that Dobbs’ resulting changes impact where medical students apply for training in the United States,” Traub said.

Most of the respondents (57.9%) said they were unlikely or very unlikely to apply for a single residency program in states with restricted abortions.

The findings, due to be presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists annual meeting this weekend, “could change the geographic makeup of healthcare,” Traub and colleagues wrote.

The survey included responses from 494 medical students in 32 states. Most were women. More than three-quarters of them, 76.9%, said access to abortion care affects where they live.

According to the Association of Medical Colleges of America, the United States already faces a significant shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 doctors in the next few years. Of greatest concern to women’s health is another AAMC data showing a significant drop in the number of medical students seeking obstetrics and gynecology training in states with strong abortion policies.

The decline in OB-GYN residency applications was 5.2% and was seen in all states with and without abortion laws. In states with a near-total ban on abortion, the rate nearly doubled, dropping by 10.5%.

If the findings are correct, the states with the strictest abortion laws could face a serious shortage of gynecologists. These states already have high maternal and infant mortality rates.

Beverly Gray, Ph.D., director of residencies at Duke University School of Medicine, said, “I’m concerned that this will affect people who want to apply to the state for training.” North Carolina became the latest state to tighten abortion laws this week, making it illegal in most cases after the 12th week of pregnancy.

View this graphic at nbcnews.com

Beyond concerns about whether hospitals have enough residents, Gray said her medical school program would force medical students to travel to other states for proper obstetrics and gynecology training, including abortion care. said it might.

“Abortion care is part of total obstetrics and gynecology care. If you don’t have the basic training, skills, techniques, and complex patient counseling and management, I think you are under-trained.” says Gray. Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology said:

Ian Peake is leaving his home state of Oklahoma for similar reasons. He graduated from medical school Friday at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine in Tulsa. On Monday, he will fly to New York City to begin his obstetrics and gynecology residency at the State University of New York Downstate College of Health Sciences.

Ian Peake moved to New York from Oklahoma, a country with strict abortion laws, to start his career as an obstetrician-gynecologist.Courtesy: Ian Peake

Dobbs was instrumental in choosing to practice outside of Oklahoma, which last year enacted the country’s toughest anti-abortion law.

“For me, after the Dobbs ruling and the ensuing ban in Oklahoma, it was very clear that this was not where I wanted to train,” Peake said, instead legally “all practice I wanted to live in a state where I could.” When it comes to obstetrics and gynecology, it is an important component of healthcare. “

Nell Marmin Bunnell, a third-year medical student at Emory School of Medicine, who also participated in the study, explained that abortion procedures are often performed in emergency situations to save lives.

Most of the procedures performed in the second or third trimester are “when the fetus is no longer viable and the pregnant patient is at risk of continuing the pregnancy, or when the pregnant patient is medically unstable”. and is dangerous to their long-term health and lives,” Marmine Bunnell said. “This happens horribly often.”

“It’s painful to come to work every day and be told you can’t provide potentially life-saving care,” said Gray, of the Duke University School of Medicine. “Being put in that situation, being asked to care for people and not being allowed to do the right thing, does a lot of emotional damage.”

where to start a family

Many of the students surveyed are of childbearing age and may be planning their own pregnancies.

In fact, 72.7% of respondents said that changes in access to abortion are likely or very likely to affect where families start.

Nell Marmin Bunnell and Arianna Traub found that changes to state abortion laws impact where medical students pursue a career in medicine.Courtesy of Ariana Traub

Traub and Mermin Bunnell have a few more years of medical school before they can decide where and what area to apply for residency. Dobbs’ decision prompted the two to consider a career in obstetrics and gynecology.

Traub is debating whether to stay in Georgia, where abortions are banned after six weeks of pregnancy, or to return to California, where abortion care is less regulated.

“Part of my mind is that if I leave this state and the rest of the health care workers leave the state, I’m leaving people who desperately need help,” he said. Traub said.

Back in California, she will gain more experience in patient abortion care.

“I want reproductive health care for myself or my family who may have it in the future,” she said.

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