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AAMC Center for Workforce Studies
More Residency Slots Needed to Curb Worsening Physician Shortages
By News Staff
Prior to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "the United States already was struggling with a critical physician shortage, and the problem will only be exacerbated as 32 million Americans acquire health care coverage and an additional 36 million people enter Medicare" in the next decade, said the AAMC press release.
The updated findings (2-page PDF; About PDFs) from the AAMC Center for Workforce Studies include the following:
- Between now and 2015, the year after all new health care reform provisions take effect, the shortage of physicians across all specialties will more than quadruple, from 13,700 to 62,900. The shortage in 2015 is more than 58 percent greater than estimates before the passage of health care reform.
- In the next decade, there will be a shortage of more than 45,000 primary care physicians and a shortage of more than 46,000 surgeons and other medical specialists -- a total shortage of more than 91,000 physicians.
- In the next decade, the number of Americans older than age 65 is expected to increase by 36 percent. During the same period, nearly one-third of all physicians are expected to retire.
- Although the physician shortages will affect every segment of the U.S. population, the most severe impact will be on the 20 percent of Americans who live in rural or inner-city locations designated as health professional shortage areas.
- Finally, although the number of medical students will continue to increase -- by as many as 7,000 additional medical school graduates each year during the next decade -- unless Congress acts now to increase the number of residency training slots, "access to health care will be out of reach for many Americans."
The AAFP has made similar calls to Congress, stating in its 2009 workforce reform policy that additional training positions for family physicians need to be funded.
More recently, the AAFP has characterized new Common Program Requirements (19-page PDF; About PDFs) approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education as placing an added financial burden on many family medicine residency programs -- especially smaller rural programs -- at a time when the need for more primary care physicians has never been greater.
ACGME Issues New Residency Rules
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Commission Is Likely to Set Nation's Health Workforce Policies, Say Experts
Provisions in Health Care Reform Law Lay Out Role of Primary Care, Family Physicians
Measures Place Greater Emphasis on Prevention, Care Coordination
Obama Administration Announces Investment in Primary Care Physician Training
Initiative Seeks to Train More Than 500 New Primary Care Physicians by 2015
AAFP's New Physician Workforce Report Represents 'Blueprint for Change'
Report Addresses Planning, Distribution, GME Funding Needs
More From AAFP
Policy on Workforce Reform
AAMC: "Physician Shortages to Worsen Without Increases in Residency Training"
(2-page PDF; About PDFs)