GME Funding: How to Fix the Doctor Shortage

The Issue

With a growing, aging population, the demand for physicians has intensified, and communities around the country are already experiencing doctor shortages. A 2017 study  conducted for the AAMC by IHS Inc., predicts that by the year 2030 the United States will face a shortage of between 40,800-104,900 physicians. There will be shortages in both primary and specialty care, and specialty shortages will be particularly large.

These shortages pose a real risk to patients.  Because it takes between five and 10 years to train a doctor, projected shortages in 2030 need to be addressed now so that patients will have access to the care they need.

The Solution

Fixing the doctor shortage requires a multi-pronged approach. This includes innovations such as team-based care and better use of technology to make care more effective and efficient. AAMC-member medical schools and teaching hospitals have been leading the movement to work better in teams – with other health professionals – nurses, dentists, pharmacists and public health professionals. These institutions also are developing the new knowledge of what works in health care – not only reading the textbooks – but writing the textbooks to advance the delivery of care.

Even with all of these changes, the data clearly show that reforms alone will not eliminate the doctor shortage.

We also need additional federal support to train at least 3,000 more doctors a year by lifting the cap on federally funded residency training positions. Lawmakers have responded with proposals in the House and Senate to increase the number of residency positions. But they must act now in order to ensure that there are enough physicians for our growing and aging population. 

Other Resources

Understanding the Doctor Shortage
Watch the AAMC's Atul Grover, MD, PhD and Janis Orlowski, MD explain the causes and effects of the projected doctor shortage.

The Nation's Physician Workforce and Future Challenges
A special feature appearing in the January 2016 issue of The American Journal of the Medical Sciences written by AAMC Executive Vice President Atul Grover, MD, PhD; AAMC Chief Health Care Officer Janis Orlowski, MD, MACP; and Clese Erikson, MPAff.

GME Legislation
Proposed legislation to increase the number of federally funded residency slots.

115th Congress (2017-2018)

114th Congress (2015-2016)

GME Payment Primers
A series of motion graphic videos that provide an introduction to Medicare and GME reimbursement and explain some of the complicated regulatory processes related to how GME payments work.

Medicare Indirect Medical Education (IME) Payments
An explanation of IME payments, which provide an additional payment to a teaching hospital for every Medicare case paid in recognition of the extra costs teaching hospitals incur in caring for patients as part of their teaching mission.