AAMC Projections Highlight Need for National Physician Workforce Plan That Addresses Shortage of All Specialties

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Statement attributable to:
Robert Wergin, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The American Academy of Family Physicians appreciates the ongoing work of the Association of American Medical Colleges in helping identify our country’s need for more physicians and the policies that must be implemented to meet Americans’ need for health care.

“Today’s AAMC workforce projections are a valuable contribution to the discussion about how we’re going to meet the demand for care from a population that is both growing and aging. It highlights the national need for a comprehensive physician workforce plan that ensures Americans have access to the right care at the right time from the right health professional.

“The AAFP agrees with the AAMC that our nation must increase the production of physicians to accommodate a growing and aging population. Our health care delivery model is moving toward a system that emphasizes prevention and positive health outcomes — a model that demands a more robust primary care physician workforce. Unfortunately, the percentage of our current physician workforce practicing in a primary care specialty is at an all-time low.

“The AAMC projects the primary care physician shortage will comprise between 27 percent and 34 percent of the overall physician shortfall. The AAFP completely concurs that we need to produce more primary care physicians, but would suggest that the AAMC numbers are low. Regardless of the exact numbers, growth in the physician workforce must emphasize growth in primary care, while also focusing on other physician specialties such as general surgery and psychiatry.

“We can count on our medical schools to produce well trained physicians. However, without additional residency training positions, we won’t make significant progress on increasing our country’s primary care physician workforce. Among the most promising approaches to building the primary care physician workforce is community-based residency training that is funded directly rather than through tertiary, academic health center hospitals. These community-based programs both attract medical students who want to practice family medicine and help address the maldistribution of physicians. Research has demonstrated that a significant percentage of physicians practice within 50 miles of their residency training programs. These data, together with workforce projections that point to the need for more primary care physicians, will be instrumental in developing a plan that increases the number of both primary care physicians and their subspecialty colleagues.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Wergin, contact Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.



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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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