What Can We Do About the Physician Shortage?

It is estimated that by 2020, there will be a national shortage of 91,500 physicians-45,400 primary care physicians and 46,100 sub-specialists and advances in healthcare will only add to this growing problem.  There have been numerous reports suggesting what the reasons for this shortage may be including population health issues, decreasing physician reimbursements, workforce problems, and residency training issues.  Some have suggested a push towards mid-level providers such as advanced nurse practitioners but even with that, there will still be a significant shortage of physicians.  With an increasing aging population, it’s critical that we find a solution.

Due to this growing shortage, states and schools have worked towards increasing their numbers of medical student but that alone will not fix the problem.  Also, the unwillingness of Congress to fund additional Medicare GME positions may lead to medical school graduates with less opportunities to finish their residencies. Medicare has been the largest supporter of graduate medical education programs since 1965.

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4 thoughts on “What Can We Do About the Physician Shortage?

    • Thank you for your input, Ruth. In your opinion, will the academic system be able to support the number of APRN’s that would be needed to fill this shortage? What if anything will be added to the curriculums to prepare APRN’s for a more robust role in primary and specialty care? Also, if APRN’s become the more dominate provider in a practice, how do you think the average patient is going to feel having to see a mid-level provider more frequently rather than a physician? Do you think they really understand the difference in credentials for the nurses in the practice and should practices educate their patients, so they have a clear understanding? We appreciate your feedback.

  1. Who decided that nurses are “mid-level” clinicians? Folks have to redefine the terms that show bias even when implying knowledge of provider expertise. In time curricula and academia will be on target preparing nurses often at the DNP level and deserve funding for it. Funding more costly new and established medical schools might be modified to funding advanced nursing education. Educating consumers about clinical providers has been on-going and continues. However, many consumers likely trust and prefer an appropriately prepared nurse as much as a physician for care and intervention. The issue of reimbursing the nurse clinician by third party payer for expertise provided requires remedy and would justifiy that level of expertise. If reimbursement to physicians shrinks or freezes in the future, some will leave for other pursuits and nurses will eventually fill the gap. It may take 25 years to know. By then we will not recognize hospitals as we now know them, either, so if we live long enough there are interesting changes to await.

  2. Pingback: Monday Morning Recap | hmsabc

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