The shortage of physicians in America will reach 100,000 by the year 2030 (AAMC). The current COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the existing shortage. The ongoing pandemic has made it apparent that the physician workforce is insufficient for the American people. This is due to the lack of funding for graduate medical education. The fading of physicians can be seen across America, but its impact in rural America is seen more pronounced.
Currently, more than twenty percent of the population resides in rural areas. The current ratio of physicians to patients is 1 to 2,500, which means that 60 million people are dealing with the impact of this shortage.
Entering a residency program is a requirement for a physician to obtain licensure and many have not been able to due to lack of funding. There are thousands of well-qualified physicians in America who are not able to practice medicine and serve the country in a time where they are needed the most because they have not secured a residency position. If Congress would increase the funding for residency positions we could have these physicians enter the workforce and can relieve the current burden that physicians have right now. There are many physicians at home right now who are not able to serve their nation in this time of need. They are well qualified and enthusiastic about entering the frontlines. It will only be possible if Congress increases funding for residency positions.
About the Graduate Medical Education
Graduate Medical Education is more commonly referred to as a ”residency” and “fellowship” program. The training after completing medical school allows physicians to specialize and practice independently in specialties of their choosing.
Despite the value of training physicians, Congress repeatedly considers cuts to GME. The current law put caps on the number of federally funded residency training positions, freezing the number available to that which existed in 1996. This lack of funding limits physician training, hindering access to care.
As our population ages, the U.S. needs more physicians to provide care. Yet, the Association of American Medical Colleges forecasts a physician shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 by 2030 unless we increase the number of physicians trained.
In order to do so, Congress needs to provide more GME funding.
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