The increased demand for gastroenterology services combined with the limited number of gastroenterologists has caused trouble for the industry's workforce.
James Weber, MD, founder and CEO of GI Alliance, spoke with Becker's to discuss the biggest obstacle the gastroenterology industry is facing today — physician workforce shortages.
Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Dr. James Weber: The number one obstacle we're facing in GI is physician workforce. There is a growing demand. There's this increasing demand for our services, and there's a limited number of gastroenterologists. Unfortunately, there's not enough new fellows being trained coming out into practice to fill the need for it. I think there's something like, three job openings for every fellow that's coming out of training to fill, so that supply and demand is a problem. Then on the other side of it, we're seeing many physicians retiring a little earlier, maybe getting a little burnout, so maybe they're not in the workforce as long. That's the challenge I have. We're trying to make sure that we are trying to be accessible to fellows, let them know what good opportunities there are. We're trying to make the jobs better and happier and more fulfilling for physicians, so they stay in the workforce longer. We're trying to find ways to expand our services by bringing in advanced providers, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can be incredibly bright and great caregivers under the guidance of a physician. Those are some ways we're trying to meet that demand. But that's our biggest challenge, our biggest obstacle, to fill that demand.