U.S. faces doctor shortage

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HOUSTON, TX – “What’s up Doc?” is a phrase you may find more difficult to say, since there’s a shortage of doctors.

Texas is in the fifth place for states with the least doctors per number of residents.

Dr. Latanya Jones Love of UTHealth Medical School said, “I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I think we’re going to see longer physician wait times to get into specialists, to get into primary care. There already is a long wait time, and I think it’s going to get even longer if we don’t do something about it now.”

According to USA Today, there are three main reasons for the decline:

  • Baby boomers are getting older require more medical care.
  • The affordable health care act will allow more people to get health insurance and seek medical attention.
  • While a third of all practicing docs are reaching retirement age this decade.

“It is getting really, really scary, but you know, doctors aren’t retiring as young as they used to now a days, which we’re finding in lots of professions, so hopefully we’ll keep them around for a little bit longer, but it is scarier.”

A couple of other issues factor in.

With the Affordable Healthcare Act, more med students will choose specialties that are more lucrative, leaving primary care positions empty.

“We have a shortage now, and we know that there are going to be more patients that have insurance, and there is still going to continue to be this shortage.”

The number of residency positions funded by Medicare is capped; so many medical students are forced to leave Texas to find residencies in other parts of the country.

“We don’t want to lose any of our medical students. We really have some great medical students here and we would like to keep each and every one of them, but right now we’re losing about 40% of them, and they are going to other states outside of Texas because there are just not enough spots.”

Does this shortage mean we may see less qualified physicians in less lucrative positions? What do you think?