Report warns of national primary care doctor shortage
SALISBURY, Md. – According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of up to 124,000 primary care and specialty physicians by 2034.
Doctors on Delmarva say that rural communities have always had an issue with finding doctors, but those national projections reflect more systemic problems facing doctors hoping to enter primary care, family medicine, and pediatrics.
“Those roles the primary care doctors, pediatricians, family medicine are some of the lowest-paid doctors that there are,” said TidalHealth Peninsula Regional Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charles B. Silvia.
Dr. Silvia said that can be a problem, when medical students can oftentimes be graduating with debt equivalent to a mortgage payment, forcing them to consider more profitable career options to be able to more quickly discharge the debt. He believes that needs to change.
“The providers need to be able to earn a good living for the hours they put in,” Dr. Silvia said.
Dr. Silvia says more help needs to be paid to easing tuition payments, raising pay, or both, as family and primary care physicians are often the first lines of defense when spotting serious medical problems before they become more serious, costly, and deadly.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine recently co-sponsored the Physician Shortage Reduction Act, intended to combat the current shortage of doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill would seek to lift the cap on the number of graduate medical education (GME) positions at qualifying hospitals; as well as increasing the total number of GME slots nationwide by 14,000 over the next seven years, with half of these slots for specialist training and a half for primary care according to release from the Senator’s office.