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01/11/2022    Leonard A. Levy, DPM, MPH

AAMC Projections on the Adequacy of the Physician Workforce: What is the Potential Impact on Podiatric Medicine?

In June 2020, the Association of American Medical
Colleges (AAMC) released a report concerning the
adequacy of the physician workforce. It projects
that physician demand will grow faster than supply,
leading to a projected total physician shortage of
between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians by 2033. It
further stated that by 2033 there will be a
shortage of primary care physicians of between
21,400 and 55,200 and a shortage across the non-
primary care specialties of between 33,700 and
86,700 physicians including between 17,100 and
28,700 for surgical specialties as well as between
9,300 and 17,800 for medical specialties.

This 2020 update was prepared before the COVID-19
crisis, so although it does not include any
specific information or scenarios based on that
crisis, it does include some lessons learned from
the pandemic and critical shortages of health
workers. The AAMC also stated that if underserved
populations had health care use patterns like
populations with fewer access barriers, demand
could rise by an additional 74,100 to 145,500

Population growth and aging continue to be the
primary driver of increasing demand from 2018 to
2033 when the U.S. population is projected to grow
by 10.4%, from about 327 million to 361 million.
While the population under age 18 is projected to
grow by only 3.9%, which portends low growth in
demand for pediatric specialties, the population
aged 65 and over is projected to grow by 45.1%,
which portends high growth in demand for physician
specialties that predominantly care for older

AAMC also indicates that a large portion of the
physician workforce is nearing traditional
retirement age, and supply projections are
sensitive to workforce decisions by older
physicians. More than two of five currently active
physicians will be 65 or older within the next
decade. Shifts in retirement patterns over that
time could have large implications on physician
supply. Podiatric medicine must consider as a high
priority the potential impact this information may
have on the profession and how it should be

Leonard A. Levy, DPM, MPH, Fort Lauderdale, FL

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