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.