AAMC Projects Physician Shortage of Between 46K to 90K by 2025
The U.S. could face a shortage of between 46,000 and 90,000 physicians by 2025, according to a new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Modern Healthcare reports (Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare, 3/3).
According to CQ HealthBeat, the estimate is lower than AAMC reported five years ago. In 2010, the organization predicted a shortfall of 130,600 physicians by 2025 (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 3/3). According to the report, the revision is the result of a small increase in the number of physicians, as well as updated population projections from the U.S. Census (Bernstein, "To Your Health," Washington Post, 3/3).
For the report, researchers used 2013 as a baseline, noting that 767,100 physicians younger than age 75 were practicing. The researchers said that of those physicians, 26% were between ages 55 and 65 and 10% were between ages 65 and 75 (Modern Healthcare, 3/3).
Overall, the report found that while the number of physicians is expected to increase, it will not grow quickly enough to meet demand ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 3/3).
The researchers said that a third or more of the physicians currently practicing could retire within 10 years. Further, they noted that the younger physicians replacing the older ones tend to work fewer hours. Meanwhile, the number of people over age 65 is expected to increase by 46% by 2025, according to AAMC Chief Health Care Officer Janis Orlowski (Modern Healthcare, 3/3).
According to the report, the greatest shortfall by percentage will be among surgeons, particularly among those specializing in diseases common among older people, such as cancer and chronic illnesses ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 3/3). Overall, the number of specialists will fall short of demand by between 28,200 and 63,700 physicians by 2025. In addition, the report authors expect that the demand for primary care physicians will exceed supply by about 12,500 to 31,100, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 3/3).
Orlowski noted that the U.S. faces both an overall shortage of physicians and an uneven distribution of providers. "It is a nationwide shortage" that is "exacerbated by maldistribution," she said.
In response to the projected shortfall, AAMC has recommended:
- Streamlining physicians' use of information technology;
- Adopting innovations that make care delivery more effective; and
- Adding 3,000 federally funded graduate medical education positions (Modern Healthcare, 3/3).
The group said the U.S. needs to act now to avoid a shortage over the next decade, as it takes five to 10 years to train a physician (CQ HealthBeat, 3/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.