Memphis lands on alarming 'highest risk' list

By: Mearl Purvis

Updated:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis is in the top 10 cities at-risk for a severe shortage of doctors trained to deliver healthy babies, obstetrics gynecology specialists or ob/gyn.

 The one of a kind doximity report blames three key factors for the looming baby doctor crisis. 70% of all U.S. doctors are members of doximity.

The study included the 50 largest U.S. Metropolitan Statistical areas (MSAS).         

Memphis ranked number 7 out of the top ten at highest risk.

1. Las Vegas

2. Orlando, Fl.

3. Los Angeles

4. Miami

5. Riverside, Cal.

6. Detroit

7. Memphis, TN.

8. Salt Lake City

9. St. Louis

10. Buffalo, N.Y.

The rankings were built in part using the profiles of 30-thousand board certified doctors.

Among the factors driving the risk was the work load of ob/gyn doctors.

Memphis ob/gyn doctor Susan Murrmann, said, "Obstetrics and gynecology (doctors) have a high burnout rate."

Dr. Murrmann at one time delivered the highest number of babies at Methodist Germantown.

She stopped delivering babies four years ago. Now she focuses on the female well-being both inside and how she wants to look on the outside. The clinic, McDonald Murrmann has grown their skin and laser clinic in recent years.

Delivering babies is the joy of the job for Methodist ob/gyn doctor Jessica Ruffin said.


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"We spend not only hours in the office and unexpected hours on call but hours each evening charting, just to keep up with the workload," she said.

A second factor driving the risk shortage is the large number of doctors expected to retire over the next five years. The study found only 14% of ob/gyn doctors are under age 40.

The average age is 51 years old and most begin to retire at 59.

A third factor is the growth of women doctors who specialize in ob/gyn.  Female doctors in the study appear to expect more out of work than to last until retirement.

Dr. Ruffin said, "not only do female physicians retire earlier than men, but they also take off time for family and child bearing."

However, FOX13 found out doctors and community health leaders in Memphis, have already given birth to a plan that could keep women in the mid-south safe from the doctor shortage risk.

Dr. Ruffin said, "Here in Memphis not only do we have ob/gyn doctors that provide obstetric care to women but we also have family practice doctors.”

Dr. Scott Morris, CEO, church health crosstown started a family medicine residency. Residents are required to help deliver babies.

“We are very engaged in trying to provide quality ob care for undeserved women here in Memphis.  Our residency program will be developing every year a series of young doctors coming out to serve not just inner city Memphis but also rural areas in Mid-South," Morris said.

Church Health at crosstown is about innovation. There are 64 exams rooms. The program is in its 2nd year. There are 12 doctors working there and every year a new group arrives.

“Starting next year there will be a group of young doctors moving into the Memphis community trained to be able to deliver babies in partnership with obgyn's. Bringing new children into this world could not be more at the heart of what crosstown is about," Morris said.

Memphis hospitals are also starting to use laborists to take some of the work load off ob/gyns.

“Two hundred fifty hospitals across the nation already have what they call laborists, meaning patients go into hospital and somebody on call twenty-four seven within the hospital is delivering that patient. That's actually reduced malpractice rates and incidents in the hospital and is better for the patient because somebody is there twenty-four seven," Murrmann told FOX13.

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