"Take 2 aspirin and call me the morning" was a familiar after-hours doctor-to-patient response years ago. Soon patients may be wondering whom to call!
The U.S. needs to train 3,000 to 10,000 more physicians a year – up from the current 25,000 – to meet the growing medical needs of an aging, wealthy nation.
It is estimated the U.S. will have a shortage of 85,000 to 2000,000 doctors in 2020. It also takes 10 years to train a doctor, more for specialists, so we have no time to waste.
How did this happen? Ten years ago, the government and health care experts underestimated how effective our medical advances were and how much wealth people would accumulate. As a result, people are living longer and longer more active lives. Unfortunately many of these aging people are the providers giving the care. Within the next 10 years, the number of physicians retiring will outstrip the 25,000 new doctors graduating each year.
Another major change is that nearly half of new physicians are women. Studies show they work an average of 25% fewer hours than male counterparts.
The aging physicians also work 15 percent less than younger doctors.
For more information about health care shortages and other changes in our workforce, visit Perfect Labor Storm.