Shortage Wide

US Faces Shortage of Over 100,000 Physicians by 2030

Cortney Ikpe

When you hear that more doctors are needed in the United States, it may not come as a shock. We could always use more doctors, right? However, an alarming new report shows that there will be a shortage of up to 121,300 physicians by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. You read that correctly – there will be, not there ‘could’ or ‘possibly’ be. At the current rate of physicians entering and leaving the medical system, there will be an urgent need of more physicians in just a decade.

What is causing this shortage?

A major factor behind this potential epidemic is that over one-third of today’s active physicians will be 65 or older by 2030. Retirement will take a significant portion of today’s medical field, and not enough physicians will fill the spaces they leave due to a limit on the number of residency spots that receive crucial Medicare funding. Another significant component is the length of time it takes to fully train a physician. According to the AAMC, it can take up to ten years to complete necessary schooling and residency programs.

Arguably the most important driver behind the impending shortage is a growth in the population -- specifically, the aging population. There are 10,000 new Medicare enrollees every day, and that number is expected to rise. Meanwhile, the overall population is expected to grow 11% by 2030. These increases will lead to an even higher demand for surgeries and other medical procedures.

What types of physicians are needed?

Here are the specific types of physicians that the US will be lacking by 2030, according to an article by Becker’s Hospital Review:

  • Primary care physicians: shortage of 14,800 - 49,300
  • Non-primary specialty physicians: shortage of 33,800 - 72,700
  • Surgeons: shortage of 20,700 - 30,500

How can this issue be resolved?

Several solutions could help alleviate the doctor shortage, if acted upon quickly. The first and most crucial step toward gaining more physicians is providing more federal support. Lifting the cap imposed by Congress on Medicare GME funding in 1997 would allow more graduate medical students to obtain slots in residencies and fellowships. Currently, there are two bills under the Resident Physician Shortage Act of 2017 title that would increase residency slots by 15,000 over five years, if approved by Congress.

Other steps include improving technology to advance the process of delivering care to patients, collaborating more with other health professionals to promote team-based care, and developing systems to find out what works and what doesn’t in health care. Teaching hospitals are making advances by providing around 10,000 residency spots without the aid of Medicare, but they often run into problems cross-subsidizing these positions with clinical revenue.

It will take more than just one of the above solutions to overcome this epidemic. The cooperation and joint effort of medical professionals, patients, and government officials will be essential in resolving this manifold problem.

At Resolve, we provide specialized services to physicians in search of employment. Now more than ever, we understand how critical it is that more doctors are placed in hospitals where they are needed. If you are searching for a job, or would like your contract reviewed, contact one of our team members today at (877)758-3318.