The United States is facing a shortage of Physicians. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), there could be a shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 Physicians by 2033.
The COVID pandemic has highlighted the heroic care Doctors provide on the frontlines. More people want to make a difference in their communities and are pursuing a career in medicine.
Medical schools are seeing an uptick in applicants. Some admissions staff calling it the “pandemic effect.”
NPR reports, Stanford University School of Medicine saw a 50% jump in the number of applications, and Boston University School of Medicine applications are up 27%.
The UC Davis School of Medicine had a 38% increase over the year before. Dean, Allison Brashear said, “It’s wonderful to see so many new applicants are responding to the call for help during this public health crisis. They are rightfully looking up to leaders in medicine, science and research and setting their career goals based on the admirable work being done to relieve the world of this deadly pandemic.”
Virtual interviews are another factor contributing to the surge. Many students don’t have to pay to travel or miss work. This provides more opportunities for low-income students.
The University at Buffalo, shows first-generation applicants are up 59% this year over last year, at 1,129, up from 711.
While this next generation of Physicians could help fix the future shortage, it’ll take more than increased applications. The United States must also focus on making the healthcare field more diverse.
Research shows, Black and Hispanic Americans account for nearly one-third of the U.S. population but just 10% of Doctors. Also, 11% of current medical students are Black or Hispanic.
Studies have shown patients trust their Doctors more if they have the same racial or ethnic background.
Greater diversity within the U.S. Physician workforce is crucial in reducing racial health disparities and improving access to care.