Doctor Shortage

August 28, 2015 • Volume 25, Issue 30
Is the nation training enough physicians?
By Tom Price


Dr. Bruce Stowell examines a patient (AP Photot/Jeff Barnard)
Dr. Bruce Stowell examines a patient at his office in Grants Pass, Ore. Experts disagree about whether the nation faces a shortage of doctors in coming years, but there is no debate about the need for more primary-care physicians in rural and low-income areas. (AP Photot/Jeff Barnard)

The medical community is debating whether the nation will have enough physicians in coming decades to serve the health care needs of U.S. residents. The Association of American Medical Colleges forecasts a deficit of up to 90,400 doctors — particularly specialists — by 2025, citing mainly a growing and aging population. But other professionals say such projections are exaggerated. Ending unnecessary medical procedures and making greater use of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacy-based clinics and technology that allows patients to communicate remotely with medical personnel could reduce the demand for doctors, they argue. Despite the debate, government officials and private organizations are working to increase the supply of physicians, especially in rural and low-income urban areas, where shortages exist. Efforts include expanding medical school slots and postgraduate residency programs, placing schools and residencies in localities that lack doctors, recruiting students from those areas and supporting them throughout their medical education.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Aug. 28, 2015  Doctor Shortage
May 05, 2000  Rating Doctors
Jan. 27, 1989  Too Many Doctors?
Nov. 25, 1977  Medical Education
Mar. 13, 1968  Medical Education
Nov. 09, 1960  Doctor Supply and Medical Education
Feb. 14, 1951  Medical Manpower
Mar. 23, 1943  Shortage of Doctors
Biology and Life Sciences
Health Insurance and Managed Care
Medicaid and Medicare
Medical Devices and Technology
Medical Profession and Personnel
Medical Research and Advocacy
Science and Mathematics Education