Reversing its longstanding position that the nation is facing a physician surplus in upcoming years, the Council on Graduate Medical Education is now endorsing an increase in the number of medical student graduates and corresponding first-year residency slots. This abrupt turnaround comes in response to a study the council commissioned that projects a shortage of physicians within the next two decades, reported Modern Healthcare (10/13/03).
The study, conducted by the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the State University of New York, Albany, projected that the nation will face a shortage of 85,000 to 96,000 physicians by 2020. As a result, the council, an advisory board to Congress, is calling for an increase of medical student graduates from about 24,000 to almost 27,000 by 2015. Over the past two decades, the number of medical students has held steady at around 16,000 per year.