The Doctor Shortage in the US Is Real – and It’s Getting Worse
Policy + Politics

The Doctor Shortage in the US Is Real – and It’s Getting Worse

There won’t be enough new doctors to continue providing care for the aging American population over the next decade, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

The report projects that by 2025 there will be between 61,700 and 94,700 fewer doctors than patients will need. Among primary care physicians alone, there will be a shortage of between 14,900 and 35,600 doctors.

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The group also highlighted shortages in the numbers of new psychiatrists and surgeons, which could pose problems for the mentally ill and older patients who require additional care for chronic conditions and age-related maladies.

“These updated projections confirm that the physician shortage is real, it’s significant, and the nation must begin to train more doctors now if patients are going to be able to receive the care they need when they need it in the near future,” AAMC president and CEO Darrell Kirch said in a statement.

A third of practicing physicians are now older than 55. Their retirement, alongside the aging population is a primary driver of the shortage, according to the AAMC, which has called for an increase of federal support for new doctor training.

The report finds that demand for physicians will grow by 11 percent to 17 percent through 2025, while the number of doctors will increase only by 4 percent to 12 percent.

In addition to the aging of both doctors and the general population, other factors driving the shortage include increased demand for medical services due to Obamacare, and the rising cost of malpractice insurance and getting a medical degree, which are pushing some current and future doctors to explore different career paths.