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  • Ricksel Penullar

Medical Worker Shortage In The U.S

According to The Association Of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the country is currently short about 20,000 physicians. The gap is estimated to go even higher in between 38,000 and 125,000 by 203

4, depending on demographic shifts, economic uncertainties, and changes in health care use. The American physician shortage existed well before Covid-19; however, the shortage caused the U.S. response to the pandemic and grew even more severe than experts predicted due to pandemic-related burnout and accelerated retirement. However, despite the great need for more doctors, there are still huge gaps between the number of aspiring physicians and space for them to train in—a dynamic that keeps perfectly healthy- qualified medical school applicants and graduates out of the pipeline.

In 2021, there was a record-setting of 42 508 applicants for residency programs, 3,741 more than in 2020 but only 35,294 first-year positions, according to the national resident matching program. The number of residency spots has been creeping upward in recent years. The growth has not been fast enough to close the gap.

The U.S. medical system falls behind many o other countries in so many ways. We have higher demand in administrative costs and worse outcomes than other high-income countries. There are also fewer physicians available per person. Suppose you look at European countries that have complex medical systems. In that case, they have at least 30 and 40 physicians per 10,000 people in the United States. We have about 26 and 27. According to a report published last June by the AAMC, the current U.S. population of about 330 million will likely balloon to 363 million by 2034. The number of Americans 75 and older will increase by a whopping 74 percent compared to 2019 numbers. This portends a significant uptick in the need for physicians because older people generally use more medical services.

As the demand for medical practitioners grows, more and more physicians will also leave the profession entirely. In a December 2021 survey conducted by the American Medical Association, one in five physicians said they would likely leave their current practice within two years. About a third said they would likely reduce their work hours next year.

The more significant workforce trend has been dubbed the “Great Resignation,” and the reasons doctors are quitting echo the factors contributing to shortfalls among other health professionals, including nurses, medical assistants, physical therapists, and pharmacists. Burnout, fear of exposure, pandemic-related mood changes, and workload were all associated with intent to leave the profession.


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