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Medscape: Is the US Neurologist Shortage Insurmountable?

By Kelli Whitlock Burton

A national shortage of neurologists is creating "neurology deserts" around the country, forcing patients to wait longer and drive further for care, news that comes as no revelation to Thomas Vidic, MD, clinical associate professor of neurology at the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend.

In 2013, Vidic and other members of an American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Workforce Task Force co-authored a report that predicted the demand for neurologists would outstrip supply by 2025. A decade later, it appears the situation is even more dire than anticipated.

While a nationwide physician shortage is affecting all specialties, neurology is facing a particularly difficult confluence of events. Advances in treatments for migraine, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological disorders have created a growing demand for care of pediatric and adult patients.

"It's really hard knowing there are families out there who need the care but can't get to it in a timely manner," said Tyler Allison, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

Working in a rural state means Allison has patients who drive 6 hours or more for an appointment. Although telemedicine has reduced the number of trips for many of his existing pediatric cases, it has had little impact on new patients. This is particularly frustrating, he said, when he sees a new patient with a condition that could have been treated by a primary care physician in their home community.

"One of the biggest problems we have in the child neurology world is that we don't have enough primary care physicians who feel they are adequately trained to care for these patients," said Allison, who also is the program director of the Child Neurology Residency Program at Children's Mercy Kansas City.


Read the full article via Medscape

Children's Mercy Neurology department