A new study just published by the American Academy of Neurology finds that the current shortage of neurologists is only expected to get worse in the years ahead. For someone who lives outside of a major metropolitan area like Seattle, this isn't new news. It can very difficult for patients to find a neurologist who specializes in MS care, especially in rural places like Montana and Alaska. And while the Society has been working on this issue for some time by recruiting medical students via MS fellowships, there's more work that can be done, especially by Congress.
Two years ago, MS Activists at the Society's annual lobby day in Washington, DC asked Congress to find solutions to address this issue and just last week, neurologists were again asking Congress to do the same thing. The long-standing nature of the problem and the lack of action by Congress points to the severity of the challenge we are facing, but that doesn't mean we should give up. In fact, I think it means we need to double-down on our efforts and work twice as hard until we find a solution.
And we need to be creative about our solutions. In 2011, our Chapter successfully pushed a law through the Washington State Legislature that closed a loophole discouraging foreign-educated MS specialists from practicing in the state. This legislation has already kept one MS specialist around and we hope it will continue to be useful in the years ahead as the shortage of neurologists gets worse.