NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Emerging Problem of Physician Shortages

January 12, 2004

Analyses of trends in U.S. health care indicate that, at current rates of production, there will be too few physicians to meet future needs, say researchers.

In a recent study, 73 deans of U.S. medical schools were surveyed on their perceptions of the shortages in their schools. The researchers found:

  • Eighty-nine percent of deans cited shortages of physicians in at least one specialty; the most frequently cited shortages were in anesthesiology (50 percent) and radiology (44 percent).
  • Shortages within the adult primary care disciplines were cited by 30 percent of responding deans.
  • Seventeen percent of the schools are already expanding, with an average of 8 additional enrollees per class.
  • Another 8 percent plan additional expansions of 15 percent to 20 percent.

The result of the changes will be a 2.1 percent growth in the number of enrollees among the 59 responding schools, say the researchers.

Source: Richard Cooper, Sandra Stoflet, and Steven Wartman, "Perceptions of Medial School Deans and State Medical Society Executives About Physician Supply," Journal of the American Medical Association, December 10, 2003.


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