On the Looming Physician Shortage and Strategic Expansion of Graduate Medical Education

Cureus. 2020 Jul 15;12(7):e9216. doi: 10.7759/cureus.9216.


Among many other things, the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020 highlighted the significance of physician shortages in the United States. Current projections anticipate a national shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032, with shortfalls in both primary care physicians and specialists. Yet while this figure highlights the magnitude of the problem, it does not capture the distributional aspect of American physician shortages. Though some specialties and geographic areas have a surplus of physicians, others have a chronic undersupply. Appropriately addressing the looming physician shortage therefore requires not only creating more physicians, but also ensuring that those physicians practice in the areas of greatest societal need. This review explores the nature of physician shortages in the United States, identifies the present bottleneck in physician training at the level of graduate medical education, and considers potential legislative and policy solutions to allow strategic and deliberate expansion of graduate medical education and physician practice.

Keywords: gme; graduate medical education; medicare; physician shortage; residency.

Publication types

  • Review