8 key stats on the impending physician shortage

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The already looming physician shortage was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic — pushing physicians to plan for early retirement. 

"I believe an aging physician population will adversely impact the ASC industry by significantly decreasing the volume of outpatient surgeries after physician retirements," Trey Sampson III, administrator of Newport Beach (Calif.) Surgery Center, told Becker's.

Here are eight pivotal stats to know about the expected physician shortage:

1. The U.S. could face a shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians by 2034, according to data released by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The range slightly narrowed compared to the 2020 estimate, a projected shortage of 54,100 to 139,000 physicians by 2033.

2. More than two of five active physicians will be older than 65 in the next decade. 

3. The states most likely to see physician shortages are in the West and South, according to a report from Physicians Thrive. Here are the five states most and least likely to see physician shortages. 

4. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates suggest current demand would increase by an additional 180,400 physicians if marginalized minority populations, people living in rural areas and the uninsured used care the same way as those with coverage in metropolitan areas.

5. About 25 percent of physicians said they made plans for early retirement during the pandemic, according to a Medscape survey, and several others said they have considered leaving medicine.

6. In a 2020 survey, Merritt Hawkins said the pandemic has resulted in a record level of physicians seeking jobs, yet from March 2020 to July 2020, recruitment searches sank 30 percent.

7. In nursing, a Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine formula projects a shortage of 510,394 registered nurses nationwide by 2030.

8. Hospitals are incentivizing nurses and other workers to join their teams by expanding sign-on bonuses. Houston Methodist is offering nurses $15,000, and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta is offering nurses $30,000.

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