Understanding the Physician Shortage in the US

Physician ready to workVarious reports say the same thing. The US will have a shortfall of 40,800 to 104,900 doctors by 2030. Most people would think you should just get more doctors.

However, the problem is not so simple. Personnel expert Emergency Staffing Solutions states that better physician staffing may be part of the solution if you understand the reasons behind the physician shortage.


A big factor in the gloomy predictions of too few doctors is the aging of the baby boomer generation. More than half of the US population will be over 65 years old by 2030. Many will have serious medical problems. However, the solution is not more doctors.

People need to eat better and exercise more to keep the doctors away. They will also need to go to the doctor less if they get improved treatments, and use advanced technology such as telehealth.


Some experts argue that one big problem is calling the doctor to handle patients all the time. Physicians do not have to handle many of these cases personally. Nurses and physician assistants can provide the needed primary health care in their stead.

Doctors can better manage their patients and their time by handing over cases to other professionals when they can. This means they can see more patients without compromising the quality of care.


Another problem in the US is in the distribution. There are too many physicians are in the big cities, and not enough in the small towns and rural areas. This is due mostly to the way doctors get reimbursement from Medicare.


Finally, there may be too many specialists in some areas and too few in others. Also, there are too few primary care physicians in comparison to specialists. The most common reason for this is financial again. Specialists make more money than generalists do. Being a specialist is also more prestigious.

It is always good to have more doctors, especially in primary care. However, the physician shortage is not as bad as most reports say. It is mostly a matter of better deployment and management. Physician staffing services can help with that in a big way.