With supervision, residents can do just as good of a job as actual doctors.
That's the finding of a new BMC Medicine study, which concluded that as long as proper supervision is in place, residents can provide care that's equal in quality to that of fully-trained doctors.
Researchers found that the experience of residents' supervisors made up for the residents' lack thereof.
The upholding of the Affordable Care Act means 80 percent of Los Angeles County's 2.2 million uninsured folks will be covered come 2014 – which means health providers are going to need a major expansion in capacity. After Thursday's ruling on the ACA – and after celebrating – southside providers and health advocates said it was time to get to work.
"This is not a time relax," Yasser Aman, the outgoing president and CEO of UMMA Community Health Clinic, told OnCentral. "The challenges are still ahead of us, but this major hurdle is now behind us. We now have to roll up our sleeves and get to work."
As to whether residents could play a role in that capacity growth, Nina Vaccaro, the executive director of the Southside Coalition of Community Health Clinics, said South L.A. clinics are open to the idea – but there are challenges.
"I think our clinics are definitely open to the idea of using residents as a part of their workforce to expand care," she said. The Southside Coalition has eight member clinics, including UMMA and South Central Family Health Center.
"The challenge is you have to be able to provide supervision to those residents, because they're not completely trained and ready to go out in the world – they have to have an attending physician they can report to and check in with," Vaccaro said.
In other words, they need the supervision that the BMC study refers to, which presents an interesting conundrum: in order to expand capacity using residents, clinics might need to – well, sacrifice capacity.
"You have to make sure you have the ability to pull time away from the existing clinical staff," Vaccaro said.
Photo by Mercy Hospital via Flickr Creative Commons.