Future doctors continue career path, while others forced to wait

By WEEK Producer

March 15, 2013 Updated Mar 15, 2013 at 9:47 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A simple white envelope determined the future for nearly 50 aspiring doctors Friday.

The fourth-year med students ripped open the paper to learn where they will conduct their residency.

The tradition, called "match day," is celebrated at the same time at every medical school across the country.

Some students from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria will train for their careers in the River City, while others to travel to various cities in the country.

But fewer med students are able to experience the joy of match day due to a lack of open residency slots.

That's why Congressman Aaron Schock introduced legislation to add 15,000 more over five years. Local medical leaders are on board.

"It really doesn't make sense to train a med student, give them an MD degree and then not give them an opportunity to have a residency to become a physician, when we need physicians so badly on the other end," said Sara Rusch, UICOMP Regional Dean.

"In 15 years, we've gone from having about 62,000 fewer doctors than what we need in the healthcare system," said Rep. Aaron Schock, 18th District. "The expectation among the American medical colleges is that by the end of 2025, we'll have 130,000 fewer doctors than what we need."

The number of federally-funded residencies has been frozen since 1997. Congressman Schock estimates this bill would cost about $200 billion dollars over 10 years.