If you’ve recently had to wait longer to see a doctor than you used to, that may not be entirely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. America is experiencing a physician shortage, and it’s only expected to get worse—a concerning situation that could lead to poorer health outcomes for many patients.
Data published in 2020 by the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the U.S. could see a shortage of 54,100 to 139,000 physicians by 2033. That shortfall is expected to span both primary- and specialty-care fields.
“The physician shortage can justly be characterized as a looming public-health crisis,” says James Taylor, group president of the leadership solutions division at AMN Healthcare, the largest health care staffing agency in the U.S.
He adds that the types of shortages and poor access to care that have been common in rural and underserved urban areas for the past few decades will become more common nationwide. “Health care delayed is often health care denied, and a growing number of Americans are going to experience this unfortunate fact.”
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