The Physician Workforce Toolkit

An Alliance for Health Reform Toolkit produced with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to expand health insurance coverage to an estimated 30 million previously uninsured persons, over the next few years. At the same time, physician shortages are expected to worsen across the nation. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors—including 45,000 primary care physicians and 46,000 surgeons and specialists—is likely to occur in the next ten years.

Roughly one-third of physicians could retire in the next decade, also contributing to the concern that the current supply of physicians will not be able to meet the growing demand for care.

Looking forward to a time when millions of newly insured Americans will be looking for primary care physicians, the question continues to be raised of whether there will be a sufficient number of primary care doctors to treat patients. The lack of incentives, particularly financial incentives, for medical students to go into primary care creates fear that the shortage among primary care doctors will worsen. The difference in the median annual income for subspecialists compared to primary care physicians is roughly $135,000. When weighing the amount of debt they will encounter upon graduation, medical students may select higher paying specialty areas of practice rather than primary care. Recent studies, however, have shown that the number of medical students matching into primary care residencies has increased since the passage of the ACA.

This toolkit aims to provide an array of resources and perspectives that describe numerous challenges to assuring an adequate physician workforce and some of the proposed solutions under consideration.

Additional Resources

Webinars December 13th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 2: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 20th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 1: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 17th, 2017

Transportation and the Role of Hospitals This AHA webinar on “Transportation and the Role of Hos......