Shortage of MDs Expected in Most States
Almost all states will have a shortage of primary care physicians by 2020, according to a report released on Wednesday by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the AP/Albany Times-Union reports. According to the report, the U.S. will require 39% more primacy care physicians over the next 14 years to meet increased demand.
Population growth and an increased number of elderly patients in states such as Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Idaho have increased demand for primary care physicians, Perry Pugno of AAFP said.
Between 1997 and 2005, the number of medical school graduates who enter the primary care field decreased by more than half as more graduates enter specialties with higher pay and more control over work hours, the report finds.
Pugno said, "As Americans age, they need more health care interventions, and primary care is the most cost-effective way to help them maintain their health" (Johnson, AP/Albany Times-Union, 9/27).
According to AAFP President Larry Fields, the expected shortage of primary care physicians likely will prompt some to close their practices to new patients. As a result, patients will have to travel farther to find physicians or might not be able to find a primary care physician at all, Fields said. He added, "People will have a harder and harder time finding the most precious commodity in medicine, a personal medical home."
In response to the expected shortage, AAFP recommends efforts to train more primary care physicians, increased pay and reforms to medical liability law (Ritter, AP/Chicago Sun-Times, 9/27).