Children’s Hospitals and Clinics stands out because of our expertly trained pediatric specialists and pediatricians.
Parents want their child to see a children’s doctor when they are sick or need specialized care. Our physicians are specially trained to meet the unique needs of children who are constantly growing and developing. For example, our neurosurgeons are trained to operate on a newborn brain one-quarter the size of an adult brain.
Children's is the state’s largest pediatric hospital, and the 7th largest stand-alone pediatric hospital in the country. Last year alone, Children’s trained approximately 400 students, residents and fellows in primary care and a variety of pediatric specialties.
Unfortunately, that specialized training is threatened by medical eduation program cuts at the state and federal level.
Because of the unique challenges involved in treating children, in 1999 Congress enacted the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program to provide children’s hospitals with graduate medical education (GME) support similar to the support given to adult teaching hospitals through Medicare. This funding allows children’s hospitals that receive CHGME to train more than 6,000 pediatricians each year. That is roughly 45 percent of all pediatricians and 50 percent of all specialists in the U.S.
Since the start of the CHGME program, the number of residents trained by children’s hospitals across the country increased by 40 percent, helping to close the gap between supply and demand for pediatricians.
In addition to the federal CHGME program, Minnesota has a Medical Education and Research Cost (MERC) program that provides funding to teaching hospitals in Minnesota to help offset the costs associated with training healthcare professionals including: physicians, pharmacists, dentists, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants and chiropractors.
In response to the state’s budget deficit in 2011, the Minnesota legislature and Governor implemented a 50% reduction in MERC funding. At the same time, Congress has cut CHGME funding by 15% from $317.5 million in FY 2010 to $265.2 million in FY 2012. These cuts have resulted in the elimination of Children's funding to services and training experiences in many of our hospitals. As an example, Children’s was forced to eliminate its funding of several residency and fellowship programs including pediatric specialties such as: neurosurgery, infectious disease, critical care, cardiology, hematology and oncology, pulmonary, and dentistry.
What do we need?
Medical training in general and pediatric specialty training in particular is extremely important for Minnesotans from every part of the state. Because of the volume of pediatric training we offer, Children’s is a resource for any community that wants their kids to have access to a pediatrician. We need to preserve and restore Minnesota’s Medical Education and Research Cost (MERC) program and provide additional funding for Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program.
It is extremely important for Minnesotans from every part of the state to have Children’s as a resource to train doctors in these medical disciplines. CHGME and MERC help fund the next generation of Minnesota’s pediatricians and pediatric specialists-doctors our children cannot live without.