The United States faces a shortage of between 124,000 and 159,000 physicians by 2025. Already at least 22 states and 15 medical specialties have reported physician workforce shortages. In response to this shortage, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted new policies to strengthen the physician workforce which will focus on improving access to care in underserved areas and increasing the physician workforce through graduate medical education expansion.
To ensure that medical students can complete their training and become physicians, the AMA will strongly advocate for funding from all payers, both public and private, for residency training positions. The number of U.S. medical school graduates is increasing, but the number of residency positions is not keeping up to because of lack of funding.
“The number of U.S. medical school applications continues to outnumber the amount of available positions for medical students,” AMA board member Joseph P. Annis, MD, stated in a press release. “However, increasing the number of positions for medical students will not lead to more physicians entering practice unless the number of residency positions increases. To ensure an adequate physician workforce, our nation needs an additional 15,000 residency positions in primary care, general surgery and other undersupplied specialties.”
In an effort to improve patient access to care, the AMA voted to encourage medical schools and residency programs to develop admissions policies and educational efforts aimed at attracting students likely to practice in underserved areas.
“Educational opportunities, such as classes and clerkships for medical students and resident physicians in underserved areas has been shown to influence a medical student’s decision to practice in an area of need,” Annis said. “Physician shortage is a serious issue for the entire nation, but it is an even bigger challenge in regions with medically underserved patients.”