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U.S. Facing Physician Shortage by 2030

According to new data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the United States could see a shortage of up to 120,000 Physicians by 2030.

The report aggregates the shortages in four broad categories: primary care, medical specialties, surgical specialties, and other specialties. By 2030, the study estimates a shortfall of between 14,800 and 49,300 primary care physicians. At the same time, there will be a shortage in non-primary care specialties of between 33,800 and 72,700 physicians. These findings are consistent with previous reports and persist despite modeling that takes into account the use of other health professions and changes in care delivery.

America is home to a growing and aging population. Between 2016 and 2030, the U.S. population is expected to grow about 11 percent to 359.4 million. During that time, “population under age 18 is projected to grow by only 3 percent, while the population aged 65 and over is projected to grow by 50 percent,” the AAMC report notes. Because older people tend to consume more health care services, this means a higher demand that will be difficult to meet with current supply.

What’s more, the supply of doctors seeing patients full-time is also dwindling as many baby-boom generation doctors are readying for retirement and leaving the workforce.

The association offered several ways to reverse the shortage, including training more physicians; educating future physicians in team-based, interprofessional care; developing innovative care-delivery and payment models; and integrating cutting-edge technology and research into the patient care environment. In addition, the association encouraged the government to support federal incentives and programs, increase funding for residency training, and introduce legislation to add 3,000 residency positions over the next five years.

Dr. Ira Nash, senior vice president and executive director of Northwell Health Physician Partners in New Hyde Park, New York, told CBS News that the survey results are bleak, but health care is changing rapidly so it’s difficult to say just how much the estimated shortages may affect how medical care is delivered in the future.

Virtual care, self-monitoring, group sessions, some ‘miracle drugs’ — there are all kinds of things that can happen over the next couple of decades that will change the basic pattern of how we deliver office-based medical care. So I think it adds much more uncertaintly to the conclusions of the report,” Nash said.

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