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U. of Maryland Representatives Join Obama Town Hall Meeting

Monday June 15, 2009
Hershaw Davis Jr.
Hershaw Davis Jr.
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The University of Maryland School of Nursing played a role June 24 in President Barack Obama’s nationally televised town hall meeting on healthcare reform.

Nursing student Hershaw Davis Jr. asked a question of the President during the forum, which involved more than 100 participants in the audience at the White House.

The crowd also included Janet D. Allan, RN, PhD, FAAN, the Baltimore school’s nursing dean.

Davis, a BSN student who also works part-time at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, was asked by ABC’s Diane Sawyer about the severity of the nursing shortage.

“It’s bad, sir,” Davis told President Obama, according to online transcripts of the event. “Currently, our patient load is increasing due to patients not having access either to insurance or primary care. And I want to ask, what’s the administration going to do to place primary care providers — physicians and nurse practitioners — back in the community so the ER is not America’s source of primary care?”


Janet D. Allan, RN, PhD, FAAN
Obama’s response was as follows:

“Well, first of all, we need more people like Hershaw, who are going to school and committed to the kind of primary care that’s going to be critical to us bringing down costs and improving quality. We’re not going to be able to do it overnight. Obviously, training physicians, training nurse practitioners, that takes years of work.

But what we can do immediately is start changing some of the incentives around what it takes to become a family physician. Right now, if you want to go into medicine, it is much more lucrative for you to go into a specialty. Now, we want terrific specialists, and one of the great things about the American medical system is we have wonderful specialists, and they do extraordinary work.

But increasingly, medical students are having to make decisions based on the fact that they’re coming out with $200,000 worth of loans. And if they become a primary care physician, oftentimes they are going to make substantially less money, and it’s going to be much harder for them to repay their loans.

So what we’ve done in the recovery act, we’ve started by seeing if we could provide additional incentives for people who wanted to go into primary care. Some loan forgiveness programs, I think, are going to be very important.

But what we’re also going to have to do is start looking at Medicare reimbursements, Medicaid reimbursements, working with doctors, working with nurses to figure out, how can we incentivize quality of care, a team approach to care that will help raise and elevate the profile of family care physicians and nurses, as opposed to just the specialists who are typically going to make more money if they’re getting paid fee-for-service?”

Allan was interviewed by Baltimore’s ABC affiliate, WMAR-TV, about the event. The report can be viewed online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4z61hzZjV4.