A challenge for antiabortion states: Doctors reluctant to work there
In a few years, Olgert Bardhi's skills will be in high demand. A first-year resident in internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, he'll be a full-fledged physician by 2025 in a nation facing a shortage of primary care doctors.
The trouble for Texas: Because of the state's strict antiabortion laws, Bardhi's not sure he will remain there.
Although he doesn't provide abortion care right now, laws limiting the procedure have created confusion and uncertainty over what treatments are legal for miscarriage and keep him from even advising pregnant patients on the option of abortion, he said. Aiding and abetting an abortion in Texas also exposes doctors to civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution.
"It definitely does bother me," Bardhi said. "If a patient comes in, and you can't provide them the care that you are supposed to for their well-being, maybe I shouldn't practice here. The thought has crossed my mind."
He is balancing his concern with his sense that he can do more good by staying, including counseling patients on obtaining contraception.
Bardhi's uncertainty reflects a broader hesitancy among some doctors and medical students who are reconsidering career prospects in red states where laws governing abortion have changed rapidly since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, according to interviews with health-care professionals and reproductive health advocates.
One large medical recruiting firm said it recently had 20 obstetrician-gynecologists turn down positions in red states because of abortion laws. The reluctance extends beyond those interested in providing abortion care, as laws meant to protect a fetus could open doctors up to new liabilities or limit their ability to practice.
It remains unclear how thoroughly career decisions being made amid the upheaval and confusion since the Supreme Court's decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization will translate to a lasting geographic shift. But amid a national shortage of reproductive health practitioners, the early evidence indicates that red states have, at minimum, put themselves at a disadvantage in the competition for crucial front-line providers, experts said.
One large health-care staffing firm, AMN Healthcare, said clients in states with abortion bans are having greater trouble filling vacancies because some prospective OB/GYN candidates won't even consider opportunities in states with new or pending abortion bans.
Tom Florence, president of Merritt Hawkins, an AMN Healthcare company, cited 20 instances since the Supreme Court ruling where prospects specifically refused to relocate to states where reproductive rights are being targeted by lawmakers.
"To talk to approximately 20 candidates that state they would decline to practice in those restrictive states, that is certainly a trend we are seeing," Florence said. "It is certainly going to impact things moving forward."
Three candidates turned down one of the firm's recruiters, who was working to fill a single job in maternal fetal medicine in Texas, he said: "All three expressed fear they could be fined or lose their license for doing their jobs."
In another example, a physician contacted by phone by an AMN Healthcare recruiter trying to fill a post in an antiabortion state "simply said, 'Roe versus Wade,' and hung up," Florence said.
Florence said the shift has especially serious implications for small, rural hospitals, which can afford just a small number of maternal specialists or, in some cases, only one.
Read more .....
As in, I will not practice medicine in (fill in the fascist state). There are well paid opportunities to (fill in a blue state), and I will seek those out.
When first contacted, they should state "I am unwilling to consider offers presented by recruiters who waste my time with offers in states that criminalize the provision of healthcare. Will you be wasting my time?" Put the onus on recruiters to filter the jobs, since the recruiters will then be able to present the overall picture (or larger slices, anyway) than individual doctors.