Enjoy the Long Wait: America Faces Huge Shortage of Doctors and Nurses By 2025

Think your wait times to see a doctor are bad now? The Association of American Medical Colleges put out a report and it is going to get a lot worse:

Demand for physicians continues to grow faster than supply, leading to a projected shortfall of between 46,100 and 90,400 physicians by 2025. Although physician supply is projected to increase modestly between 2013 and 2025, demand will grow more steeply.

The shortage will include primary care doctors, but specialists in particular:

Projected shortfalls in primary care will range between 12,500 and 31,100 physicians by 2025, while demand for non-primary care physicians will exceed supply by 28,200 to 63,700 physicians.

One of the reasons for the projected shortfall is the Affordable Care Act. More people are covered than ever before:

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 26 million people who otherwise would be uninsured in the absence of ACA eventually will have medical insurance. Taking into consideration the health and risk factors of the population likely to gain insurance and estimated changes in care utilization patterns associated with gaining medical insurance, the projected increase in demand for physician services is about 2.0%. The increase is highest (in percentage terms) for surgical specialties (3.2%), followed by primary care (2.0%), medical specialties (1.7%), and “all other” specialties (1.5%). Within these broad categories there are differences in the impact of ACA for individual specialties.

Overall, this study actually lowers the projected shortfall from previous reports. And what about nurses? We're going to need an estimated 1.05 million new nurses by 2022. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the shortage is due to a shortage of nursing faculty, restricted enrollment numbers, and an aging workforce:

According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, 55% of the RN workforce is age 50 or older.

The Health Resources and Services Administration projects that more than 1 million registered nurses will reach retirement age within the next 10 to 15 years.

With 2022 and 2025 on the horizon, we need to get some of our youth on the path to medical and nursing school—STAT!


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