According to statistics from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), by 2020, demand is set to outstrip supply in several specialties, with nonprimary care specialties in general projected to experience a shortage of 62,400 doctors. General surgery is predicted to be among the hardest hit, with a shortage of 21,400 surgeons. The number of practicing general surgeons is expected to fall to 30,800 by 2020 from 39,100 in 2000. Ophthalmology and orthopedic surgery are each expected to need more than 6,000 additional physicians over current levels. Urology, psychiatry, and radiology all are expected to see shortfalls of more than 4,000 physicians, according to the HRSA figures.
Resneck said he understood why primary care was the main target of attention on Capitol Hill and in the general public, but said other specialties should be included in the discussion, particularly when it comes to lifting the current cap on the number of residency slots that can be supported by Medicare... "We just want people to be aware that there are patient care implications from shortages in other specialties, too."