America doesn't have enough doctors
Okay, let's say you have a scratchy throat, runny nose, and just plain don't feel great. You go to the doctor, right? Well, in a few years that might not be so easy.
Data from a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges shows by 2025, the USA will be short 1 million doctors, with primary-care physicians making up around 1/3 of the shortage. Right now, 1-in-4 medical school graduates heads into primary-care. It should really be double that to keep up with demand.
This means not only will there be fewer doctors to get an appointment with, but the ones still around will have more patients than ever, so good luck getting in to see them. Also, with people living longer, there's going to be a greater demand from each person over their longer lifespan.
And the scary thing is, the primary-care doctor shortage is already a severe problem. Right now, a bunch of states have under 50% of their primary-care needs being met. In Connecticut, it's only 15%.
So, people just don't want to be doctors anymore? Actually, no, that's not the case. Doctors, like most of us, want to earn as much as they can. Specializing in a field like orthopedic surgery can make you twice as much as a general practitioner. Add to this the typically longer hours general practitioners work and you can see why people are avoiding the field.
The big question, though, is how do we fix this? Well, it seems like a good place to start are colleges, where the majority of faculty are specialists, which tends to influence the professional route taken by their students, according to MarketWatch.
Some even suggest changing our fee-for-service style of health care and start paying doctors based on the time for which a patient is treated.
Of course, the most important thing isn't how we handle this problem, it's when. Things need to change, and soon, before we have to wait weeks to get our sick child in to see their doctor.