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Doctor shortage threatens U.S.



Northeast Ohio is beginning to feel the pinch of the looming nationwide doctor shortage. Major medical centers, including the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth System and University Hospitals, are looking for neurosurgeons, urologists, pediatric oncologists and other specialists to fill the gaps. But the largest and most immediate need in this region and nationwide remains primary care doctors -- an umbrella term for family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, gynecology and general surgery. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates there is a shortage of 13,700 doctors nationwide in all specialties. That number is predicted to hit 63,000 by 2015, and more than double, reaching 130,000, by 2025. Right now, there are 954,000 physicians practicing in the United States, including 30,000 in Ohio. Ohio is ranked 21st among states in the number per capita of physicians in active patient care, according to the medical colleges association's most recent work-force data book. Across our region, especially in urban and rural areas, there are pockets that desperately could use more primary care doctors, said Dr. Alfred Connors, MetroHealth Medical Center's chief medical officer. The need will spread, he said.
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