According to a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the United States is projected to suffer from a nationwide shortage of over 90,000 physicians by 2020.
This MD shortage has a number of contributing factors:
• a rapidly growing and aging population
• rising expectations of timely access to health care services
• an aging physician workforce
• a new generation of doctors seeking fewer work hours
While medical school enrollment is rising as planned to address this physician shortage, there may not be enough residency positions available for new graduates. Medical training in the United States requires the completion of a three- to seven-year residency program post-graduation.
Unfortunately, an increase in the number of new medical schools has not yet led to an increase in the number of open residency positions, leaving some MD’s without the necessary training to actually practice medicine.
Competition is already stiff for residency slots. In 2012, 38,377 medical school graduates from the United States and abroad competed for 26,722 U.S. residency positions, according to a report by the National Resident Matching Program.
The number of federally funded residency positions available has been capped since 1997. Rather than expanding as needed, these programs are now facing the possibility of losing government support. The AAMC and the American Medical Association (AMA) continue to fight for increased graduate medical education funding. If the residency gap goes unaddressed, the feared MD shortage may well become a reality.