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Physicians Harbor Labor Day Blues

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, September 1, 2011

The association estimates that potential healthcare reforms, such as universal health coverage, will add to overall demand for doctors and increase the projected shortfall by 25%.

But although there may be more physicians who stay in practice by postponing retirement, they probably won't be enough to offset the impact of anticipated healthcare needs, says Edward McEachern, vice president of marketing for Jackson & Coker.

"We have seen a pent-up retirement demand, if you will," McEachern says. "The doctors are working longer and longer, but we're fearful of when the 401Ks do turn around and the economy turns around, you may see a huge percentage of doctors who wanted to retire and couldn't, and then decide to do so," he adds. "That will add to the severe shortage of physicians in our healthcare system."

There is some good news, however. First year medical school enrollment in 2014-15 is projected to reach 23% above 2002-2003. Current projects indicate that medical school enrollment is on track to reach a 30% targeted increase by 2018, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

By then, Generation Xers may feel a bit more comfortable about retirement.


Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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3 comments on "Physicians Harbor Labor Day Blues"


Keith Jennings (9/2/2011 at 6:00 PM)
Enjoyed reading your report on this research, Joe. Thank you for sharing this.

A. J. Rosmarin (9/1/2011 at 10:35 PM)
Emotional integration for the sake of "just doing something" is never a good reason to sell one's practice. With one-third of practicing physicians aged 55 and over - over 250,000 physicians - this is a subject of increasing frequency and concern amongst physicians all over the country looking for an exit strategy and a way to monetize the goodwill in their practices from, in many cases, over 25 years of business and dedication to their patients.

Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC (9/1/2011 at 3:19 PM)
As a physician advocate, I have found many of my recent conversations with physicians to be quite depressing for the very reasons you have elucidated. Physicians, more than ever, are feeling like cogs in a machine, subject to pressure from government and state mandates, threats of audits, patient impatience, bottom-line thinking and other such trials. While I recognize that there are realities in life and business for everyone to deal with, and I have little tolerance for unwarranted whining, I fear that physician anger and despair may lead to a backlash that we as a society will ultimately find threatening to the health of our social fabric.