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Saturday 22nd October 2016

US to face shortage of medics

10th July 2007

Healthcare service providers in the United States are increasingly turning to international recruitment to plug a large deficit between the number of doctors and nurses the country needs, and the number it produces.


The country will face a shortfall of almost a million nurses and 24,000 doctors by 2020, according to the Health Research Institute, a subsidiary of consulting and accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC).

The shortage is symptomatic of a 'broken and dysfunctional' medical workforce model, it said.

In the next three to five years, the labour force will shrink, as the baby boom generation begins to retire.

This generation make up a large proportion of the current medical workforce, and medical and nursing colleges are not producing enough graduates to fill their shoes, PWC said.

The country needs to train 3,000 to 10,000 more physicians a year — up from the current 25,000 — to meet the growing medical needs of an aging, wealthy nation, according to some estimates.

Because it takes 10 years to train a doctor, the nation will have a shortage of 85,000 to 200,000 doctors in 2020 unless action is taken soon.

At the same time, there has been a significant increase in the number of applications to nursing school, and a sixfold increase in the number of applicant turned away.

By 2010, the US will see its first decline in the number of registered nurses, which has risen by 75% since 1980.

Part of the problem, the report said, can be traced to a lack of funding for universities, who then cannot afford to employ enough academic staff to meet student demand for training. The result is a lack of development in nurse training programmes across the country.

Moreover, nurse training courses tend to lose money for colleges, making them less attractive when colleges are choosing which courses to invest in. The expense of training nurses also keeps lecturers' salaries low.


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