The Shortage of Neurologists’ Effect on Patient Care: Jennifer Majersik, MD, MS

The division chief of vascular neurology at the University of Utah discussed the driving force behind the national shortage of neurologists and its effect on patient care.

“We've seen in some smaller papers that having access to a neurologist does improve patient care. It's one of the things that we've asked the AAN to consider, and whether this happens or not, I don't know, but we think it'd be great to have fellowships with funding in health services research looking at this specifically, so that we can better quantify the value that a neurologist brings to the patient. Because in the end, that's what we think we all do, is bring value to the bedside.”

Considering the ongoing shortage of neurologists in the United States, Jennifer Majersik, MD, MS, spoke with NeurologyLive on the contributing factors, namely an aging population as well as expansion of treatments for neurologic diseases creating a higher demand for care. Discussing a paper she coauthored alongside 9 colleagues, Majersik, who is chief of the division of vascular neurology and professor of neurology at the University of Utah, described the impact on the quality of patient care, which is lacking in concrete data. 

Patients and primary care providers are aware of new treatments for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and migraine, increasing referrals to neurologists. Considering this, Majersik posited neurologists are “victims of our own success,” due to efforts in identifying effective treatments and resultant wait times. Not only are patients seeking these treatments, but data further shows that they benefit from seeing specialists as opposed to primary care providers, as those with Parkinson disease are less likely to experience falls and those with epilepsy experience fewer seizures and therefore less car accidents, Majersik said. 

REFERENCE
Majersik JJ, Ahmed A, Chen IA, et al. A shortage of neurologists – we must act now: A report from the AAN 2019 transforming leaders program. Neurology. Published online April 30, 2021. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000012111