Let the Good Times Roll…on Medical Education: The Doctor Shortage

Catey Harwell, MS2


One of the hot topics at the GSA/OSR Joint Regional Conference is that of the impending doctor shortage. Estimates predict that the U.S. will see a shortage of between 46,000 and 90,000 doctors by 2025, particularly in surgical specialties, which I find somewhat surprising given the recent push for primary care. You can check out the AAMC report here. The AAMC is really making this a focus. In fact, they’ve put together a series of brief videos to highlight what this could mean for doctors and patients. While the videos may come off as a bit cheesy, they may very well represent reality in a not too distant future.

Because it takes so long to become a doctor, this isn’t a problem that can just be “dealt with” in 2025, we need to start finding solutions now. One of the big concerns I hear from fellow students, and a concern I have myself, is the unrelenting competitiveness for residency positions. There just doesn’t seem to be enough spots…but are there? According to data presented in another session by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) at the conference, there are. Here are how the numbers shake out:

~18,000 allopathic seniors

~3,000 osteopathic seniors

~27,000 first year positions (PGY1)

More residency-specific data can be found here.

Unfortunately, the number of students graduating from medical schools (osteopathic and allopathic) is increasing at a faster rate than residency positions are being added. That’s where we start getting into trouble.

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