New studies have emerged that point to a severe shortage of doctors and other vital health workers is on the horizon for the United States.
The first report, conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), concluded that the United States will need to hire between 34,600 to 88,000 doctors by 2025 to adequately care for our aging population.
The doctor deficit by 2030 is expected to be anywhere around 40,800 to 104,900 doctors.
A second report paints an even bleaker picture. It estimates that the United States will need to hire 2.3 million new healthcare workers by 2025.
Conducted by the global healthcare staffing consultancy Mercer, the findings shows that largest number of new job openings, about 423,200, will be for home health aides — people who care for the elderly in their homes.
To become a home health aide, you typically only need a high school diploma for an entry-level position. Yet home health aides do not earn much. The Labor Department estimates pay to to be around $11 an hour, or about $23,130 a year.
Mercer also expects nurses to be in high demand. The firm estimates that there will be 400,000 new nursing assistant positions and nearly 51,500 new nurse practitioner openings.
The reasons for this are twofold. First, experienced nurses are retiring at a rapid rate. Plus there aren’t enough nursing school graduates to fill the workforce.
Some hospitals and other medical facilities have begun to offer five-figure signing bonuses to new nurses.
What this future shortage could mean for patient care is complicated to say the least.
Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, AAMC president and CEO, has been quoted as saying that the physician shortage projections are “especially troubling.”
This is because by 2030 the number of Americans over the age of 65 will grow by 55 percent.
Typically, as people age they require more healthcare services.
“As our patient population continues to grow and age, we must begin to train more doctors if we wish to meet the health care needs of all Americans,” aid Kirch.
The one bright spot in all this is that the future of healthcare itself is changing rapidly
Dr. Ira Nash, senior vice president and executive director of Northwell Health Physician Partner in New Hyde Park, New York, is hopeful.
“Virtual care, self-monitoring, group sessions, some ‘miracle drugs’ — there are all kinds of things that can happen over the next couple of decades that will change the basic pattern of how we deliver office-based medical care,” Nash said.
“So I think it adds much more uncertainty to the conclusions of the report.”