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New Docs Consider Shape of Medicine Going Forward

Medical Students at UCF College of Medicine
Medical Students at UCF College of Medicine

December 6, 2012 | WMFE - As our series Healthcare Reform in Central Florida continues, this morning we look at how the affordable care act will impact physicians. Changes in health care affect not only practicing doctors but also medical students just coming into the profession. One of those students is Reporter Farah Dosani. She is enrolled in Medical Studies at the University of Central Florida and shares a unique perspective on situation.

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Christin Giordano began her first year as a student at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in August.

“I was actually one of the people who knew they wanted to be doctors since they were very young,” said Giordano

But six years ago as an undergraduate, she grappled with her decision on whether to go down that path.

“I had this dream of what a physician was and it was someone who spent time with their patients, diagnosed them appropriately, took care of them, established a relationship with them,” said Giordano.

“But as I shadowed physicians in college I saw that was not the practice reality for many of them.”

Giordano saw doctors struggling with lower reimbursements, their debt from medical school, the mounting paperwork, and less time with patients.

“I could see at that time there was struggle in our government in what to do with health care,” she said.

Giordano and other doctors-in-training will enter medicine at a time of change within the field – especially as the Affordable Care Act unfolds.

“I think it’s definitely a different perspective than some of the older physicians that are kind of leaving practice,” said Dr. Natesha Ambs, a third-year internal medical resident at Florida Hospital in Orlando.  

“I’ve kind of seen things change right in front of my eyes as far as this new act coming along.”

Within a year, Ambs will be a full-fledged physician working in central Florida

“There are still a lot of questions in my mind about the Affordable Care Act. I can’t say I’m an expert by any means,” she said.

The law is multifaceted and no one really knows exactly how it will play out. It affects doctors depending on their specialty, the patients they see, and the location where they practice.

The Act at its core will expand health care insurance coverage to millions of Americans. As a primary care provider, Ambs sees this as something positive.

But having more patients also raises concerns.

“We will have to be doing a lot more paperwork, a lot more documentation. It could hinder the time and relationship we build with our patients,” said Ambs.

Giordano sees other flaws in the law.

“I think in some ways it is building on trends that were already happening and in some ways I think that might be its biggest fault,” she said.

Giordano had hoped the Affordable Care Act would address issues like paying for school and tort reform, but says it fell short.

Yet despite those concerns and after two years working as a physician’s assistant, Giordano chose to become a doctor.

“If that meant additional time and financial sacrifice, I was willing to do that for the betterment of my patients,” said Giordano.

A 2010 study showed 95% of medical students agreed the health care system needs reform. Some believe physicians should no longer play a passive role in shaping policy. Giordano’s classmate Joe Gill sees the health care law as an opening for future doctors.

“We’re at a period of time where we have the opportunity to make a change for the better and it can be positive or negative – it depends on what we make of it,” said Gill. “More than anything I saw it as a challenge”

Dr. Maria Cannarozzi teaches internal medicine University of Central Florida College of Medicine.

She says she reminds her students that regardless of how the Affordable Care Act plays out, key aspects of the profession will stay the same for all doctors.

“It may affect reimbursement; it may affect the panel of patients, the types of insurance that we see and those kinds of things. But it’s not going to affect what I do with a patient in an exam room,” said Cannarozzi.

“It should not affect the core of what I do: taking care of people one person at a time.”

—After all, that’s why most people choose to become a doctor in the first place.

 

Editor's Note:  An earlier version of this story did not disclose Farah Dosani is a reporter who is also enrolled in medical studies at UCF.

 

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