By Ritisha K. Chhaganlal, J.D.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported in March of 2015, that by the year 2025, demand for physicians will exceed the supply by a projected shortfall of 46,100 to 90,400. Although significant, these numbers are much smaller than numbers previously projected in a 2010 study. That study reported demand to exceed supply by 130,600. One of the factors supporting the difference between the 2015 and 2010 projections is the rise in the number of physicians completing their graduate medical education from 27,000 to approximately 29,000 annually.
To read the full Final Report addressing The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2013 to 2025 submitted by IHS Inc. for AAMC, click here.
With this being the case, the new number of medical school enrollees for 2015, should shed some hope over these dismal projections. According to data released by AAMC in October 2015, the number of students enrolling in medical schools across the nation has increased by a whopping 25 percent since 2002, reaching an all-time high of 20,630 this year. Locally, the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine received 4,875 applicants this year. That is an increase from last year by about 700 applicants. Overall, the number of medical school applicants rose by more than 6 percent in 2015, which doubles the percentage of 2014.
Increased Efforts to Diversify.
President and CEO of the AAMC, Darrell G. Kirch MD, stated, “The nation’s medical schools are creating innovative education and training programs to prepare tomorrow’s doctors to meet the challenges of the changing health care environment. This dynamic landscape is leading to a record number of students applying to and enrolling in medical school.”
Dr. Kirch is hopeful that the consistent increases in the number of applicants and the broadened diversity of students enrolling in medical school will continue. Dr. Kirch encourages medical schools to sustain efforts in their communities to diversify the applicant pool through pipeline programs, outreach efforts and holistic review initiatives.
The year 2015 brought increases in nearly every racial and ethnic category as medical school classes continued to diversify. Most significantly, African American enrollees rose by 11.6 percent from last year, with the number of applicants increasing by an impressive 16.8 percent. The number of Hispanic or Latino applicants was not far behind with a marked 10.3 percent increase from last year. This category saw an increase in enrollees as well. And while the percentage of male enrollees versus female enrollees remained consistent with last year’s numbers, first-time applicants saw a 6.2 percent increase among women.
To read more about the overall increases in applicants and enrollees, click here.
Physician Shortage May Still Persist.
In a statement released in March 2015, Dr. Kirch said, “The doctor shortage is real–it’s significant–and it’s particularly serious for the kind of medical care that our aging population is going to need.” Dr. Kirch relied upon the study conducted by the Life Science division of IHS Inc. for AAMC in support of his statement. The study shows that physician demand over the next decade is projected to grow faster than supply by up to 17 percent. Furthermore, the forecast is believed to persist under every likely scenario including:
(a) increased use of advanced practice nurses (APRNs);
(b) greater use of alternative settings such as retail clinics;
(c) delayed physician retirement;
(d) rapid changes in payment and delivery; and
(e) other modeled scenarios.
Dr. Kirch contends, “Because training a doctor takes between five and [ten] years, we must act now, in 2015, if we are going to avoid serious physician shortages in 2025.” Dr. Kirch believes that the solution for the higher-end physician shortage projections will require a multi-pronged approach. This approach includes:
(a) innovation in delivery;
(b) greater use of technology;
(c) improved, efficient use of all health professionals on the care team; and
(d) an increase in federal support for residency training with the goal being to train at least 3,000 more doctors each year.
The study confirmed that no single solution is sufficient on its own in providing a resolution to the physician shortages. It must be a collaboration of efforts. And according to Dr. Kirch and judging by this year’s numbers, it would seem medical schools are most certainly doing their part to prepare the next generation of health care professionals able to take on the growing health care needs of our aging population.
To read more about the key findings on the physician supply and demand through 2025, click here.
Contact a Health Care Attorney that is Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.
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“Medical School Applicants, Enrollees Reach New Highs.” Association of American Medical Colleges: 22 Oct. 2015. Web. 29 Dec. 2015.
Miller, Naseem S. “Medical School Applications Increased in 2015.” Orlando Sentinel: 26 Oct. 2015. Web. 28 Dec. 2015.
“New Physician Workforce Projections Show the Doctor Shortage Remains Significant.” Association of American Medical Colleges: 3 Mar. 2015. Web. 29 Dec. 2015.
About the Author: Ritisha K. Chhaganlal, J.D., is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.
KeyWords: Graduate medical education (GME), medical graduate attorney, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), graduate medical education attorney, lawyer for medical students, medical resident attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, medical students legal counsel, United States Medical Examiners (NBME) lawyer, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm, UCF College of Medicine applicants, UCF College of Medicine enrollees
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