STEM jobs contributing to U.S. doctor shortage

Fewer young people are attending medical school these days, creating a projected doctor shortage of between 42,000 and 121,000 by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Many older physicians are now switching careers, convincing millennials the extra time and energy for a medical degree just isn't worth it.

“At the primary care level, the compensation, they can get that being an engineering, attorney or other things that require less education, says Craig Fowler, regional vice president of The Medicus Firm, a Dallas-based physician search and consulting agency.

“The STEM degrees, the science technology and math degrees, they're going take students, take young people a lot of different directions and regardless where they end up it's probably going to be okay,” says Fowler.

Younger Americans also prefer careers allowing them to move around to more trendy areas of the country, seeking a greater balance between work and play.

Then there's the student debt. Dr. Stephen Spann is dean of University of Houston's new College of Medicine, which recently received a major gift offering the school's first class essentially free tuition.

“The average U.S. medical student who graduates from medical school has about $190,000 in debt, so this first class will get to save about $100,000 in tuition and fees,” he says.

Texas currently ranks 47th out of 50 states in primary care physician-to-population ratio.

 “Forty-percent of our population in Texas is Hispanic, but only ten percent of our doctors,” says Dr. Spann. “We need more young people from Hispanic backgrounds to choose medicine as a career.”

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