When I can’t walk or am unusually clumsy, I call his office. When my body loses sensation due to lesions on my brain, he is my go-to guy. If my sight gets a little fuzzy from possible optic neuritis, I make an appointment. These situations are true for many people living with MS - calling their neurologist to get every new symptom checked out. Yet, this critical reaction may be forced to change in the future, as it is expected the number of neurologists who enter the MS field will decrease considerably.
I have seen my neurologist twice in the last six months. A predicted shortage of neurologists could cause those vital appointments to come to a screeching halt for me and others like me. As the number of neurologists specializing in MS decreases, the number of people diagnosed with this dastardly disease continues to rise, ironically due to the advances in neurological diagnostic tools. The specialist's base of patients will grow, thus making it harder for patients to get a timely appointment. And with a disease like multiple sclerosis, time is of the essence for treatment of a relapse.
This past year, the public policy office worked with Congressman Michael Grimm along with nine other original co-sponsors on the PATH Act- Improving Physician Access in Teaching Hospitals (H.R. 2224) to prevent a physician shortage in the United States. Congressman Grimm introduced the PATH Act in the middle of June.
Channing Barker is the author of this blog post and is an intern in the Society's Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. this summer. She was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS at 16 in 2006. Channing will finish up her last year at the University of Arkansas with a double major in political science and journalism. Be sure to follow our blog and learn all of the exciting opportunities Channing participates in this summer!