US facing looming doctor shortage, group says

US facing looming doctor shortage, group says
March 03 01:00 2015

US facing looming doctor shortage, group says

Despite a modest increase in the number of physicians trained each year, the country still faces a looming shortage of physicians, particularly in areas such as surgery or cancer care, the group that represents the nation’s medical schools said Tuesday.

Because it takes so long to educate a doctor, the only way to address the crisis in 2025 is to act now, said Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, the CEO of the As­so­ci­ation of American Medical Colleges and a former dean of Medical College of Georgia.

“This truly is urgent,” he said.

The group released its first comprehensive reassessment of physician supply and demand in five years and found its estimate for the shortage to be between 46,000 and 90,000 by 2025. While the number of doctors produced each year has increased from about 27,000 to 29,000 per year, demand for physicians would increase by 17 percent, mainly as a result of demographics, said Dr. Janis Orlowski, the chief health care officer for the group.

“It is a growing and aging population,” she said.

While people younger than 20 are projected to increase 5 to 6 percent over the next decade, those older than 65 were projected to increase 46 percent, Orlowski said. The difference in those numbers also leads to greater emphasis on specialists who would help tend to that older group’s chronic health problems.

Previous reports had emphasized a shortage of primary care physicians, but the new report found a much higher need for specialists, particularly surgeons.
While there was a projected shortage of 12,500 to 31,000 in primary care, the nation would be short 28,200 to 63,700 specialists, according to the report. For instance, a greater number and greater use of advanced practice nurse practitioners and other providers could help ease the burden on primary care but not as much in the specialty areas, the report noted.

Read full story at McDuffie Mirror
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