The Shortage of Primary-Care Doctors in America

The doctor will not see you now. The U.S. could lose as many as 100,000 doctors by 2025, according to a recent Association of American Medical Colleges report.

Primary-care physicians will account for as much as one-third of that shortage, meaning the doctor you likely interact with most often is also becoming much more difficult to see.

Tasked with checkups and referring more complicated health problems to specialists, these doctors have the most consistent contact with a patient. But 65 million people live in what’s “essentially a primary-care desert,” said Phil Miller of the physician search firm Merritt Hawkins.

Without those doctors, our medical system is “putting out forest fires — just treating the patients when they get really sick,” said Dr. Richard Olds, the chief executive officer of the Caribbean medical school St. George’s University, who is attempting to use his institution’s resources to help alleviate the shortage.

Dr. Ramanathan Raju, CEO of public hospital system NYC Health + Hospitals, goes even further, saying the U.S. lacks a basic primary-care system. “I think we really killed primary care in this country,” said Raju. “It needs to be addressed yesterday.”

“The real problem is we don’t have enough doctors in the right places and in the right specialties,” Olds said, noting that doctors tend to cluster in big cities, and are far more scarce in rural areas and in other small communities as well as certain parts of some big cities

(Read more at MarketWatch)

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