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The Shortage of Doctors: Medical Schools Expand and Focus on Primary Care

No doubt you have heard via the media and other sources that a severe shortage of primary care physicians is expected in the near future. Many articles have been published which address this issue, from one in the Annals of Family Medicine to another published by the AARP. The Business Insider also projects a physician shortage due in part to the Affordable Care Act and the increased number of insured patients it will produce, as does KaiserThe New York Times also addressed the looming shortage of doctors in an article published in August 2013.

Many medical schools in recent years have been trying to address this issue in two ways: by increasing their size and by placing more focus on primary care than in the past. Some medical schools have always had an emphasis on primary care; state institutions have as one of their missions the goal of serving the residents of their state—they thus tend to place more emphasis on primary care. But other schools are following suit. The establishment of new medical schools is also helping to address this problem and many of these schools place a particular emphasis on primary care; Quinnipiac, Central Michigan, and Florida International are three new schools with a focus on primary care. And other schools are implementing new programs to address the predicted shortage of primary care physicians. This blog post on Wing of Zock describes these developments.

There have also been many reports describing the futility of increasing the number of medical school spaces without also expanding the residency positions available to train graduating students. Because of this dichotomy the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of 90,000 physicians within 10 years. The Wall Street Journal and Forbes also describe the problem that the lack of available residency positions poses with no easy solution since residency positions require funding from the government; read this article by the AAMC to learn more.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

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