Dr. Gerald E. Harmon, MD, the AMA’s President wrote an opinion piece on the group’s website entitled Why we must act now to ensure an adequate physician workforce. It includes this passage:
A Mayo Clinic Proceedings article published in December confirmed our worst fears about what this pandemic and other stressors are doing to physicians and others in our health care workforce. The report, based on a broad survey of medical professionals in 2020, showed that one in five doctors—and twice as many nurses—said they planned to leave the profession within the next two years, and many more planned to reduce the hours they worked over the next 12 months.
If only a portion of them follow through with their plans, the impact on U.S. health care would be significant given ordinary circumstances. And it would potentially be devastating amid a new or resurgent public health emergency.
We can start by taking a hard look at how we nurture and grow our physician community in the U.S., taking steps to make it more inclusive and accessible to a more diverse group of bright young people. We must not only grow the size of our physician community, but also its diversity. Almost one in three people in the U.S. come from historically marginalized communities, but fewer than one in eight are physicians. This has to change.
The AMA supports current actions by Congress to expand federal support for graduate medical education through measures such as the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (S. 834). This legislation, a version of which is also pending in the U.S. House, will add 2,000 more Medicare-supported medical residency positions each year for seven years at qualifying hospitals starting in 2023—with a particular emphasis on hospitals in rural areas and medically underserved communities.
Chief Operating Officer