AAMC increases projection of physician shortage up to 100K

Dive Brief:

  • The Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC) new estimates of the country's growing physician shortage shows it will range from 34,600 to 88,000 doctors by 2025 and from 40,800 to 104,900 by 2030.
  • The AAMC's estimates in 2016 showed a projected shortage ranging between 61,700 and 94,700 by 2025.
  • The number of new physicians is "not keeping pace with the healthcare demands of a growing and aging population," according to the study conducted by a division of the global information company IHS Markit. 

Dive Insight:

The growing awareness of the physician shortage has helped many in the healthcare industry develop new strategies to better help the dwindling amount of medical professionals meet the increased demand for care services, which is partly due to a larger portion of the population having health insurance coverage. 

These range from allowing nurse practitioners to practice independently to easing at least some of doctors' administrative burdens. The number of administrative tasks that physicians are required to do on a daily basis, including imputing health data into electronic health record systems, has been continuously cited as the main cause of burnout by physicians who have responded to surveys like the one conducted by Medscape.

A medical student and a radiation oncology specialist wrote a shared byline published by Stat on Tuesday that argues addressing the concerns medical professionals have with debt and their financial stress will help prevent burnout and depression. They offered "six strategic solutions" to focus on, such as limiting tuition increases and increasing federal funding.

However, the shortage is not just among physicians but also among nurses. A report released earlier this month shows nearly half of surveyed nurses (49.8%) are considering leaving the profession, which will in turn exacerbate the problem at a time when the country's aging population will continue to increase the demand for care. 

“By 2030, the U.S. population of Americans aged 65 and older will grow by 55%, which makes the projected shortage especially troubling,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch said in a statement. “As patients get older, they need two to three times as many services, mostly in specialty care, which is where the shortages are particularly severe.”

The AAMC once again recommended a multipronged solution to the problem. This includes "expanding medical school class size, innovating in care delivery and team-based care, making better use of technology, and increasing federal support for an additional 3,000 new residency positions per year over the next five years."

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Filed Under: Hospital Administration Policy & Regulation Practice Management