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US Faces Shortage of Doctors; 150,000 Short in 15 Years

Posted: April 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Trends | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The Wall Street Journal is out with an article detailing the burgeoning demand for doctors in the United States. By some estimates, the United States will face a shortage of 150,000 doctors in fifteen years. Healthcare reform is anticipated to increase the demand – primarily at the PCP level – and medical schools are having trouble keeping up.

At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

That shortfall is predicted despite a push by teaching hospitals and medical schools to boost the number of U.S. doctors, which now totals about 954,000.

The greatest demand will be for primary-care physicians. These general practitioners, internists, family physicians and pediatricians will have a larger role under the new law, coordinating care for each patient.

The U.S. has 352,908 primary-care doctors now, and the college association estimates that 45,000 more will be needed by 2020. But the number of medical-school students entering family medicine fell more than a quarter between 2002 and 2007.

Some other notables from the WSJ article:

  • The law offers sweeteners to encourage more people to enter medical professions, and a 10% Medicare pay boost for primary-care doctors.
  • As of last October, four new medical schools enrolled a total of about 190 students, and 12 medical schools raised the enrollment of first-year students by a total of 150 slots, according to the AAMC. Some 18,000 students entered U.S. medical schools in the fall of 2009, the AAMC says.
  • There are about 110,000 resident positions in the U.S., according to the AAMC.

The following graphic produced by the WSJ also highlights where the shortage falls:

[via WSJ]