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Published: Sunday, 6/29/2014


Special teams can meet doctor need

I was sorry to see The Blade reiterate a mantra of those who are waiting for medical care: the need for more physicians (“More doctors, please,” editorial, May 31).

Our nation can’t afford to train and pay enough doctors to apply increasing medical technology to care for every patient in an obese, aging population with a growing burden of illness.

Instead of diluting the ranks of physicians with mediocre talent, it’s time for our highly trained physicians to lead teams of computer-supported, compassionate advanced practitioners to meet demand efficiently. These include doctors of nursing practice, doctors of physical therapy, doctors of psychology, doctors of pharmacy, diabetes educators, and dietitians.

I am one of fewer than 2,500 endocrinologists in practice in the United States, which is home to millions of people with diabetes, thyroid disease, and osteoporosis. There also are legions of patients with other endocrine and metabolic diseases that include obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

Guidelines developed by physician-researchers for the diagnosis and care of most disorders of endocrinology and metabolism are available and are easily adapted for computer-aided diagnosis and management by physician-led teams.

When I leave the University of Toledo Medical Center this week to join an advanced clinical and research team in St. Louis, there will be one very hard-working endocrinologist left at UTMC. Without a sufficient team to support him, patients and referring physicians will be reminded that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is not the only institution with insufficient subspecialists to meet demand.


Ottawa Hills

Editor’s note: The writer is former interim chief of endocrinology at UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio.

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