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Second Opinion

Learn about policy issues important to medical schools and teaching hospitals, with Chief Public Policy Officer Atul Grover, MD, PhD

GME Funding: How to Fix the Doctor Shortage

The Issue

With a growing, aging population, the demand for physicians has intensified, and communities around the country are already experiencing doctor shortages. A 2015 study conducted for the AAMC by IHS Inc., predicts that by the year 2025 the United States will face a shortage of between 46,000-90,000 physicians. There will be shortages in both primary and specialty care, and specialty shortages will be particularly large.

These shortages pose a real risk to patients.  Because it takes between five and 10 years to train a doctor, projected shortages in 2025 need to be addressed now so that patients will have access to the care they need.

The Solution

Fixing the doctor shortage requires a multi-pronged approach. This includes innovations such as team-based care and better use of technology to make care more effective and efficient. AAMC-member medical schools and teaching hospitals have been leading the movement to work better in teams – with other health professionals – nurses, dentists, pharmacists and public health professionals. These institutions also are developing the new knowledge of what works in health care – not only reading the textbooks – but writing the textbooks to advance the delivery of care.

Even with all of these changes, the data clearly show that reforms alone will not eliminate the doctor shortage.

We also need additional federal support to train at least 3,000 more doctors a year by lifting the cap on federally funded residency training positions. Lawmakers have responded with proposals in the House and Senate to increase the number of residency positions. But they must act now in order to ensure that there are enough physicians for our growing and aging population. 

Other Resources

Understanding the Doctor Shortage External Link
Watch the AAMC's Atul Grover, MD, PhD and Janis Orlowski, MD explain the causes and effects of the projected doctor shortage.

GME Champions Urge Increased Support for Funding and Expansion
Watch video highlights from a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing where Sens. Baucus, Nelson, and Schumer asked for continued support of graduate medical education (GME) funding.

GME Legislation
Proposed legislation to increase the number of federally funded residency slots.

Proposed Reductions in Medicare IME Payments to AAMC Teaching Hospitals: National and State Economic Impacts 
Proposed cuts to federal support for major teaching hospitals would result in a loss of nearly 73,000 full-time jobs and $654 million in local and state revenue, according to a study commissioned by the AAMC.

Even Small Cuts Have Major Impacts: The National and State Economic Impacts of Proposed Reductions in Medicare IME Payments to AAMC Teaching Hospitals 
Nearly 22,000 jobs and $200 million in state and local tax revenues would be lost if the nation’s largest teaching hospitals faced even a 20 percent cut to indirect medical education (IME) support.

Quick Facts

Shortage of doctors by 2025: 46,000-90,000

Shortage of primary care physicians: 12,500-31,100

Shortage of surgeons and specialists: 28,200-63,700

Increase in the U.S. population by 2025: 30.8 million

Increase in the number of Americans over 65: 46 percent

What People Are Saying

Physician Workforce Reports