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Strategy Needed to Address Impending Physician Shortage

AAMC promotes multipronged approach including federal support, technology, care delivery changes

FRIDAY, June 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Steps should be taken to combat the impending physician shortage of between 61,700 and 94,700 doctors that the United States is expected to face over the next decade, according to an article published in Medical Economics.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) notes that the problem is critical, but recognizing the problem was an important first step. Since 2001 there has been a 26 percent increase in the number of medical students, with increases in the number of medical schools and class sizes.

The AAMC has instituted a multipronged approach to alleviate the impending physician shortage that includes urging Congress to increase federal support in order to add at least 3,000 new residency positions annually for the next five years. Also, the federal cap on residency programs needs to be lifted, and federal support for training of physicians should be increased. In addition, technology use should be improved, with use of telehealth and personal devices improving the efficiency of medical care. Finally, the AAMC is seeking innovations in care delivery, encouraging employment of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dietitians, and pharmacists to reduce physician work load.

“Promoting interprofessional team-based care, where all health care professionals are used at their maximum scope of practice, carries the greatest promise of improving access to high-quality health care,” said Benjamin Reynolds, director of the office of advanced practice providers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, according to the article.

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