- The U.S. will face a physician shortage over the next decade ranging between 61,700 and 94,700, particularly among surgical specialties, according to a physician workforce report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges on Tuesday.
- The study, conducted by the global information company IHS Inc., shows retirement decisions will have the most significant impact on physician supply and within the next decade, more than one-third of all physicians that are currently active will be 65 or older.
- AAMC called for a multi-pronged approach to alleviate the shortage including innovations in care delivery, improving technology use, and urging Congress to increased federal support to add 3,000 new residency positions annually during the next five years.
According to AAMC, while the supply of general and vascular surgeons will substantially decline by 2025, the supply of primary care physicians, medical specialists, and other specialists will increase. Yet, more insurance coverage under the ACA will increase demand by another 10,000 to 11,000 physicians (1.2%).
“These updated projections confirm that the physician shortage is real, it’s significant, and the nation must begin to train more doctors now if patients are going to be able to receive the care they need when they need it in the near future,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch said in a prepared statement.
The study projects a shortfall by 2025 of about 14,900 and 35,600 primary care physicians and between 37,400 and 60,300 physicians among non-primary care specialties.
Kirch argues medical schools have done their part by making their class sizes bigger, but if the country expects to increase its number of physicians, Congress must now increase federal support for new doctor training.
“We believe this is a measured approach to deal with a problem that has the potential to affect every American. It strikes a balance between our nation’s budget constraints and what medical schools and teaching hospitals believe is our responsibility to meet the needs of patients,” Kirch said, adding, “Because it can take up to 10 years to train a doctor, our nation needs to act now.”
In 2014, although more than 43 million U.S. adults had a mental illness, 45 states had fewer psychiatrists than in 2009, Kirch said.