Utah’s Physician Shortage
Experts with the American Association of Medical Colleges anticipate a shortage of 122,000 physicians by 2032, with the possibility that historically underserved areas may experience these shortages more acutely, both in primary and specialty care.
Utah, as with many states, is a part of this trend. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Health estimates that there will be a shortage of 600 primary care physicians by 2025. Currently, 26 of Utah’s 29 counties have shortage areas, and 18 are underserved for dental providers (shortage areas are defined as those that have 3,500 people or more to one doctor). As a result, some physicians and dentists are having to take on heavier workloads, which can make them more susceptible to disabling injury or illness, including mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
Utah is taking steps to address this shortage, in part by establishing the Healthcare Workforce Financial Assistance Program and the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program, which offer student loan repayments to physicians, dentists, and mid-level providers who agree to work in underserved areas. Because clinics in underserved areas, whether they be rural or urban, tend to pay less on average, experts hope the offer of loan repayment will incentivize residents and doctors to consider and accept jobs in these sectors, and hopefully choose to stay on once their obligation period passes.
Ashley Imlay, Doctor shortage brings creative solution: Work here and we’ll help pay your student debt, Deseret News, Oct. 27, 2019
Utah Department of Health
Public Health Indicator Based Information System (IBIS), Utah’s Public Health Data Resource