Arizona’s Physician Shortage

A recent study published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) found that the U.S. is facing a growing shortage of physicians—both those in primary care and specialty care—with an estimated expected shortage of between 46,900 and 121,900 by 2032.[1]  The shortage is likely due to a number of factors such as the increased costs of going to medical school, the long hours that doctors work, doctors facing disabling conditions that interfere with their ability to practice safely, and other distractions that interfere with their ability to focus on helping patients, like lawsuits and dealing with insurance companies/bureaucratic rules/red-tape.

Arizona is not exempt from this trend, with the AAMC ranking Arizona just 42nd nationwide in the number of active primary-care physicians per 100,000 people.  This, in part, is what prompted Nebraska-based Creighton University to expand its medical program and open a medical school in Phoenix (opening in the fall of 2021).  Creighton will continue partnering with Arizona-based St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center (part of Dignity Health), District Medical Group, and the Maricopa Integrated Health System.[2]  Arizona’s two other medical schools, both based at the University of Arizona, are affiliated with Banner Health.

While expanding educational opportunities can be an important next step in addressing physician shortage, an upcoming Healthcare Breakfast Panel 2019 will also look additional issues surrounding the growing shortage, including how the shortage affects other healthcare physicians, patients and employers, how technology is being used in virtual medicine, and what experts see for the future.  The panel will also look at what the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1354, an act appropriating money from Arizona state’s general fund (fiscal year 2019-2020) to Arizona graduate medical education programs, could mean for the state.  The panel is scheduled for June 20, 2019 and is sponsored by Health System Alliance of Arizona.

[1] New Findings Confirm Predictions on Physician Shortage, AAMC News, April 23, 2019.

[2] Greg Toppo, From Omaha to Phoenix, Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 13, 2019.


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