Doctor Shortage Is Looming In U.S.

Experts say we’re headed for a doctor shortage in this country. You could be waiting weeks or months for a doctor’s appointment, traveling further to get there and spending less time with your doctor when you do.

One obstacle stood between Barbara Chorzempa and the birth of her baby, a grueling drive up and over a mountain. There was no way around it. Barbara couldn’t deliver in the rural town she lives. There was no hospital with a maternity ward and not a single obstetrician for miles.

“It’s a scary thought, not being close to a hospital,” said Barbara.

But it’s a thought Americans everywhere may have to get used to. Rising malpractice premiums, falling reimbursement and fears of being sued have forced obstetricians in some states into early retirement.

“We have a medical liability system that’s out of control,” said Dr. Patrick Vetere, a gynecologist. “I felt not doing obstetrics, you could avoid quite a bit of that.”

But the shortage won’t be limited to obstetricians. As 79 million baby boomers reach old age, experts predict we’ll be short 200,000 physicians by the year 2020.

“Any disaster that calls forth the need for lots of doctors, they just aren’t there,” said Dr. Richard Cooper of the Council of Physician and Nurse Supply at the University of Pennsylvania.

Other specialties that will suffer: oncology. The demand is projected to increase by 48-percent because of more cancer survivors, but supply is only projected to increase by 14-percent. Experts predict a 20-percent decrease in the number of cardiologists by 2020. And one report suggests the U.S. should have more than 30,000 child psychiatrists, but there are fewer than 7,000 in practice right now.

At eight months pregnant, Barbara moved to a friend’s basement to be closer to her doctor. She’s now got a healthy baby girl.

Experts say we’ll need to train 10,000 more physicians each year to meet our needs. The next medical school to open in the U.S. will be the UCF medical school In Orlando.

It is expected to open in 2009. Efforts are underway to raise money to provide free tuition to the first class of 40 students.

Editor’s Note: This article originally was posted on the WFTV website. They have reorganized their website and this article was either moved or deleted. We were unable to locate it, but will keep it on our website if any or our users need access to it. If you are a physician and need a medical malpractice insurance quote, click here.

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