(HealthDay News) — Based on current demographics and utilization of primary care services, more than 44,000 primary care physicians will be needed by 2035, according to a study published in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.
Stephen M. Petterson, PhD, from the Robert Graham Center in Washington, D.C., and colleagues calculated the projected primary care physician shortage. Data from the 2010 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey were used to examine utilization of ambulatory primary care services, and demographic changes were projected from U.S. Census Bureau data. The 2014 American Medical Association Masterfile was used to determine the baseline number of primary care physicians and the number retiring at 66 years. The annual production of primary care residents was estimated using the specialty board and American Osteopathic Association figures.
The authors estimated that, by 2035, more than 44,000 primary care physicians will be needed. Based on current primary care production rates, there will be a shortage in excess of 33,000 primary care physicians. An additional 1,700 primary care residency slots will be needed by 2035 based on current production. A decrease of 10% in the ratio of population per primary care physician would necessitate more than 3,000 additional slots by 2035; lowering the expected retirement age to 64 years would require more than 2,400 extra slots.
“To eliminate projected shortages in 2035, primary care residency production must increase by 21% compared with current production,” the authors write.