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Match Day Renews Concerns About Doctor Shortages

AAMC Says Residency Position Increases Not Enough to Meet Future Physician Demand

Washington, D.C., March 16, 2012AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., issued the following statement on Match Day results released this afternoon by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP):

"The AAMC is encouraged by the slight increase in the number of residency training positions in this year’s Match and by the new high in the total number of U.S. medical school graduates who matched to a residency training position (16,272 M.D.’s) this year.  While recent efforts have resulted in more residency positions, we remain very concerned that these increases are insufficient to meet the nation’s future health care needs and the looming doctor shortage.

To help avert the doctor shortage, the nation’s medical schools have been expanding enrollment since 2006 and are now on track to educate 30 percent more M.D.’s by 2017.  Teaching hospitals also have entirely self-funded the training of thousands of additional doctors since 2000.  But these increases are not enough to avert the expected shortage of 90,000 physicians by 2020. To address this shortfall, the U.S. must make a greater national investment in residency training through graduate medical education while at the same time looking for more efficient, effective ways for teams of health professionals to deliver high-quality care to all patients.  

With 32 million Americans set to enter the health care system in 2014, and a growing and aging population who will live longer and need more medical care, the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are doing all they can to address the shortage.  To meet the needs of patients, Congress and the administration must do their part and allow Medicare to resume paying its share of the costs by creating additional residency training positions at teaching hospitals. 

An acute national shortage of physicians—both primary care and specialists—will have a profound effect on access to health care, including longer waits for appointments and the need to travel farther to see a doctor. The elderly, the poor, rural residents, and the 20 percent of Americans who are already medically underserved will face even greater challenges as a result.  Because it can take up to 14 years from the time new doctors begin their education until they enter practice, we must begin to act now to avert this shortage.

The AAMC urges Congress and the administration to do their part and increase funding for Medicare-supported residency positions.  Cutting the deficit is important, but sustained investment in doctor training is critical to the health of all Americans."

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The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association representing all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 128,000 faculty members, 75,000 medical students, and 110,000 resident physicians. Additional information about the AAMC and U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at www.aamc.org/newsroom

Contact

Lesley Ward
Senior Media Relations Specialist
Telephone: 202-828-0655
E-mail: lward@aamc.org