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Arizona physicians work to keep residents and economy healthy

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Arizona patients and legislators know the value of our doctors.

However, doctors aren’t just there when you need them for medical attention. Physicians also contribute to the community’s well-being outside of the exam room.

This year, the American Medical Association (AMA) published a study that demonstrates the significant economic impact doctors have locally and nationally. The Arizona Medical Association (ArMA) was pleased to partner with AMA to share the local results of the study.

Michael Hamant

Michael Hamant

The 2018 AMA Economic Impact Study found that Arizona physicians generated $33.5 billion dollars in direct and indirect economic activity for the state, with each physician supporting nearly $2.4 million dollars on average. In total, physicians across the United States produced
$2.3 trillion in economic activity for the country.

According to the AMA study, Arizona physicians supported a total of 198,921 jobs, including those in the medical field and across other industries. On average, that’s 14.2 jobs per individual physician – jobs which produce a local economy that stays in the state and even attracts investment from outside the state’s borders.

As the AMA study demonstrates, physicians not only safeguard a healthy community, they also provide for their community. The state’s doctors supported more than $1.2 billion in local and state tax revenues, with each doctor supporting $86,635 in local and state tax revenues. That’s money that goes directly to Arizona communities and infrastructure.

This report’s findings show that Arizona physicians go above and beyond for their communities, generating billions in state and local tax revenue and economic activity, while also creating more jobs that provide security, good wages and benefits.

Outside of the practice of medicine, we see job growth and societal benefits from our academic medical institutions and biomedical industry.

Despite the clear economic benefit Arizona doctors provide our state, there are still barriers in place that prevent recruitment. According to the AAMC 2017 State Physician Workforce Data Report, Arizona offers about 235 physicians per 100,000 population, which is well short of the national median of 257.

There have been efforts in recent years to boost investment in Arizona medical schools, and the state now has six schools that offer medical training. However, the number of slots for residency training, or graduate medical education (GME), have not significantly increased. Physicians tend to stay in the area that they complete their residency – we are able to keep about 74 percent of those who complete their residencies in Arizona.

Given the growth of medical schools and medical students in Arizona, as well as the growth in our state population, we need to see a corresponding increase in GME funding. We need to retain these new physicians, for our medical health and our economic health. ArMA is committed to exploring options to increase GME funding in Arizona.

The AMA Economic Impact Study shows the tangible value physicians provide. We want to do all we can to encourage more physicians to come to Arizona so that we can keep our state’s health and economy strong.

— Dr. Michael Hamant is a private practice family physician in Tucson and the 126th president of the Arizona Medical Association.

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The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.

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