Who needs more patients?

“We don’t need to announce our new internal medicine docs,” a hospital manager told me. “They’re filled up within two days of opening their doors.”

We have a doctor shortage in the U.S., and it’s getting worse. We’re relying more and more on nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and trimming time with patients for more efficiency.

A recent report by the Association of American Medical Colleges reveals the following state-by-state facts about physician supply and demand:

Alaska: The state needs 59 new physicians (MD’s or DOs) every year to replace those who are retiring or leaving. Alaska has only 205 physicians per 100,000 population compared with 238 nationwide.

Arizona: Rapid population growth puts a higher demand on doctors with specialties in allergies, cardiovascular surgery, endocrinology, gastroenterology, hematology, and infectious disease.

California. Most doctors (60%) practice medicine in only five counties. A rapidly growing population could cause a growth in demand of 4.7% to 15.9% by 20015.

Florida. Population is expected to grow 60% by 2030; during that time the aged population will grow by 124%.

Georgia. Predictions are that without changes in medical education facilities, Georgia will be dead last in physicians per 100,000 by 2020.

Idaho. This state ranks 49th out of 50 states in physician supply, with only 198 physicians per 100,000 population. It is 48th in the number of first-year medical students per 100,000 residents.

Iowa. Aging population points to need for physicians in five specialties: psychiatry, neurosurgery, general internal medicine, orthopedic surgery, and cardiology.

Kentucky. Almost half of Kentucky’s counties are designated as Health Professional Shortage areas (HPSA) for primary care.

Maryland. Now at 16% below the national average for the number of physicians available for clinical practice,

Maryland has the greatest shortage of physicians in Southern Maryland, Western Maryland, and the Eastern Shore.

Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Medical Society produces a physician workforce study every year, and this year is another that shows a “strained” medical system.

Michigan. Growth in demand will outpace growth in available physicians in the state, with a projected shortage of 4,400 physicians by 2020.

Minnesota. Only 5% of Minnesota’s physician practice in rural areas although 13% of Minnesotans live that. Too few specialists are available especially in northern and southern rural areas.

Mississippi. Two out of three counties in Mississippi are labeled as Health Professional Shortage Areas. Over half (56%) of all of Mississippi’s physicians practice in four counties.

Nebraska.  Only 9 of Nebraska’s 93 counties have more than 214.09 physicians per 100,000 population, the average for all states in 2004.

Nevada. This state has one of the lowest physician-to-population ratios in the nation and one of the highest population growth rates.

New Mexico.  More than half of New Mexico’s physicians are located in Bernalillo County. Only Los Alamos County, with a rate of 2.41 physicians per 1,000 population, came close to the national average of 2.42, and all other counties were far below.

North Carolina. A Task Force convened by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine concluded that without major changes in the health care delivery system or significant increases in the number of physicians, the state is likely to face a severe shortage of physicians.

Texas. While the number of Texas medical school graduates has remained relatively flat over the past twenty years, the state’s population has grown by 50% in the same time.

Oregon. 2004 data suggests a “looming shortage of physicians.” The state is already experiencing shortages in rural areas and in several specialties, including rheumatology, nephrology, gastroenterology, cardiology, allergy-immunology and pediatrics.

Utah. There are currently shortages in Utah for physicians in pediatric neurology, child psychiatry, adult psychiatry, obstetrics & gynecology, general surgery, dermatology, urology, and cardiology. The state will need to recruit up to 270 physicians a year in order to keep up with growth.

Virginia. By 2020 there will be a shortage of approximately 1,500 physicians in Virginia. By 2030, 25% of the state’s population will be over the age of 60 meaning more people will be making more frequent doctor’s visits.

Wisconsin. A 2004 report from the Task Force on Wisconsin’s Future Physician Workforce, concluded that Wisconsin has current unmet needs for physician services that are likely to worsen in the foreseeable future. Shortages in primary care physicians, general surgeons, and radiologists already exist in rural areas of the state.

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