Medical students, doctors prepare for Affordable Care Act - WFLA News Channel 8

Medical students, doctors prepare for Affordable Care Act

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Alicia Billington is entering an industry in flux.

The fourth-year medical student at USF is training to be a doctor as the Affordable Care Act is implemented and doctors across the country try to figure out what it means for them and their patients.

"I think it's evolving and changing, and I think with each attempt at implementing a new part of it, we're coming across new hurdles," said, an aspiring surgeon.

Medical students are talking about the ACA more these days, she said, with concerns about whether there will be enough physicians to treat a growing number of patients seeking care and enough residency spots for medical students when they graduate.

"In 180 days, I'm supposed to open up my match day envelope, and there's a very real possibility it could have nothing in it - meaning I don't match anywhere," Billington said.

The jobs of the future could also look different for aspiring doctors.

It's likely that fewer doctors will work for themselves in the future, said Dr. Robert Brooks, associate vice president for healthcare leadership at USF.

"The numbers show that now most of the physicians that are coming out of residency or fellowship for the first time are joining groups, large groups, are becoming employees of hospitals or even insurance companies," Brooks said.

That could mean fewer doctors with a career like Dr. Madelyn Butler, whose private practice recently won a 'business of the year' award from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Butler, a former president of the Florida Medical Association, said she is monitoring things with the new law to see what it will mean, with concerns including how doctors will be reimbursed for care and how that could affect treatment options.

Some things in the law are not "workable," but not everything will stick, she said.

"We need to deal with defects in this bill and fix them so we can move on with day to day life," she said.

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