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AMA revises policy to address continued demand for physicians
For immediate release
December 9, 2003
HONOLULU -- The American Medical Association late yesterday amended policy to address inequities in the size, composition, and distribution of the U.S. physician workforce that are limiting patient access to care. The policy will guide the AMAs efforts with the public and private sectors to ensure there is an adequate supply of physicians to meet demand and need.
Not having a doctor when one is needed can be devastating to a patient, said AMA President-Elect John C. Nelson, M.D., M.P.H. The AMA is committed to making sure that physicians are available now and in the future.
Previous AMA policy stated that continued growth in the physician workforce would lead to an oversupply. These policies noted that physician supply had been increasing at a faster rate than the U.S. population for the last 20 years. In that time, more than 368,000 physicians were added to the workforce, and U.S. medical schools were graduating about 18,000 students annually.
Emerging evidence demonstrates, however, that the current supply of physicians has not exceeded the demand for physicians services. Despite the increase in the nations supply, the number of physicians in rural areas did not rise proportionally. Both rural and urban shortage areas exist due to an imbalance in the distribution of physicians. Further decreases in rural physicians are predicted with the declining interest in family practice as a specialty.
While there is evidence of physician shortages, the AMA believes declaring a national physician shortage, overall or in some specialties, may be premature without detailed, specialty-specific studies. The policy calls on the AMA to support current Title VII programs to alleviate the shortages in many specialties and the unequal distribution of physicians across the U.S. We will be working on a report to address these critical physician supply issues.
Other actions taken on Monday by the AMA House of Delegates included formulating policy to:
For additional information, please contact:
Robert J. Mills
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