Doctor shortage will grow as Americans get older, demand outpaces supply

Americans are living longer and requiring more care later into life, and doctors themselves are aging out of the profession.

The Association of American Medical Colleges projects the U.S. will see a shortage of 46,900 to 121,900 physicians by 2032 in primary and specialty care.

Dr. Carmel Bitondo Dyer, a geriatrician and UTHealth Consortium on Aging executive director, said the first wave of Baby Boomers are turning 85 years old. In 10 years, the youngest boomer will be 65.

"Many people recognize that there may be other things they wanted to do in life or have slowed down somewhat and believe that it's time to retire," said Dyer.

She said the Health Professional Society needs to require adequate training in medical schools and health professional schools to meet the needs of the up and coming patient population, which will be the majority of people being served. Currently there's minimal requirements for geriatric medicine in medical school. Internists require a one month training period. Family medicine only needs six weeks.

"It's not clear into what age people can practice medicine. But, it is clear what we have to do is train the up and coming workforce to care for older adults," said Dyer.

Research finds one-third of all doctors currently working will be older than 65 in the next decade. Plus, older patients use two-to-three times as many medical services as younger patients.

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