New Jersey to see physician shortage by 2020

By 2020, New Jersey faces a projected shortfall of more than 2,800 physicians (approximately 1,000 primary care physicians and 1,800 specialists) beyond the current supply in the physician graduate medical education production pipeline, according to a report from the Physician Workforce Policy Task Force established by the Trenton-based New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals and several partner organizations.

While this projection is worrying, it could actually be worse. The best-case scenario is a dearth of only 2,500 physicians, but in a worst-case scenario, the shortfall could top 3,100 physicians.

The projected shortage represents "a 12 percent gap in the physician supply vs. the likely population demand for services," says the Task Force. "There is a current shortage within primary-care specialties, including family medicine, geriatrics, general surgery, and obstetrics. Within non-primary care specialties, neurosurgery and pediatric sub-specialties are the most alarming. Over 70 percent of all pediatric sub-specialties have serious shortages." (Note: The Task Force's demand predictions are based on the implementation of health reform.)

State government should work with New Jersey medical schools and teaching hospitals to create a centralized strategic planning alliance to drive policy, regulations, funding and recruitment/retention programs to manage the physician supply, recommends the Task Force.

To learn more about the Task Force's findings:
- read their report