Physician shortage could hit 100K by 2030

There’s no relief in sight to a projected physician shortage, according to a new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

The latest projections continued to align with previous estimates by the group, showing a projected shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors by 2030, according to the report (PDF). For the third year in a row, the AAMC projected physician demand will continue to grow faster than the supply, leading to a projected total physician shortfall that will reach 34,600 to 88,000 doctors in 2025, and continued to increase significantly by 2030.

“The nation continues to face a significant physician shortage. As our patient population continues to grow and age, we must begin to train more doctors if we wish to meet the healthcare needs of all Americans,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., said in an announcement.

Here are some additional key findings from the report:

  • By 2030, the country will face a shortfall of between 7,300 and 43,100 primary care physicians. There will be an even greater shortfall of non-primary care specialties, projected at between 33,500 and 61,800 physicians. In particular, the supply of surgical specialists is expected to remain level, while demand increases
  • There are not enough doctors to meet the needs of a growing and aging population. It’s estimated that by 2030, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will increase by 55%. Older patients need two to three times as many services, mostly in specialty care, where shortages are particularly severe
  • An increasing number of advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants continue to enter the market, with numbers increasing at faster rates than physicians

The AAMC said a multi-pronged solution is needed including expanding medical school class sizes and increasing federal support for an additional 3,000 new residency positions per year over the next five years.

Numerous states are already feeling the impact of the physician shortage and have come up with strategies, including starting new branches of medical schools.