MOUNT VERNON — America is short on doctors. As more physicians specialize, primary care practitioners and general surgeons become scarce. Medical students are recruited years before graduation. Shortages challenge large and small markets alike, and they are growing.
In a country of 312 million people served by nearly a million doctors, roughly 18,000 students a year enter medical school. Some of the schools are expanding, and the American Medical Association is hopeful they will soon produce 5,000 additional graduates yearly. Nevertheless, the Association of American Medical Colleges forecasts a shortage of 91,000 doctors by 2020, evenly divided between surgeon/specialists and primary care physicians. Some projections are even more gloomy.
Practices devoted to children and the elderly are hard-hit, while urology, oncology and dermatology are among understaffed specialties. The New England Journal of Medicine reports 10 urology openings for each new specialist and projects 4,000 unfilled oncology positions by 2020. Demand for dermatologists is greater still.
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