U.S. Facing Massive Doctor Shortage

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You might find it increasingly difficult to get in to see your doctor — or any physician, for that matter — in the near future. The demand for doctors in the U.S. has already outpaced supply, and the problem is only expected to get worse.

According to new research from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. faces a looming doctor shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 physicians by 2030.

This comes at a time when many smaller communities across the U.S. are already struggling to find and retain medical doctors.

The AAMC is sounding the alarm now in an effort to thwart the impending physician shortage. The organization says:

These shortages pose a real risk to patients. Because it takes between five and 10 years to train a doctor, projected shortages in 2030 need to be addressed now so that patients will have access to the care they need.

The doctor shortage may be exacerbated further by a recent decision by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to suspend a “premium processing” option for H-1B visa applications, The New York Times reports.

H-1Bs are temporary visas for skilled foreign workers. Many rural hospitals and medical facilities rely on and hire foreign physicians on work visas, according to the Times.

In the past, employers could pony up an extra $1,225 to fast-track the review of an H-1B applicant. This “premium processing” option meant application approval time could take as little as two weeks rather than several months.

The government says companies that pay the extra fee have “effectively delayed visas for others” that didn’t pay the fee, the Times reports.

The AAMC is pushing for a multi-pronged solution to the impending doctor shortage. Among the organization’s ideas are the following:

  • Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of patient care with team-based care and better use of technology.
  • Increasing the number of residency positions by lifting a cap on federally funded residency training.

For more on health care news, check out “6 Hot-Button Issues in the Battle Over the GOP Health Care Plan.”

Do you have difficulties now getting in to see a doctor? What do you think of the looming doctor shortage? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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