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The nation’s looming shortage of qualified doctors and specialists presents a growing threat to the nation’s health care system. The Association of American Medical Colleges released new research that shows physician demand continuing to grow faster than supply, leading to a projected shortfall of between 42,600 and 121,300 physicians by 2030. This includes a projected shortage of 14,800 to 49,300 primary care physicians. For non-primary care specialties, the projected shortfall ranges from 33,800 to 72,700 doctors.

There are many key drivers behind this trend: Baby boomer physicians are retiring, yet the aging baby boomer population still requires care. Additionally, with the rising cost of education, fewer students are going into M.D. programs in proportion to the general population.  What’s more, the distribution of physicians means a glut in urban locations, while many rural areas remain underserved — an issue that is expected to get worse.

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