by Tara Weiss
No one ever said being a doctor was easy. School and training go on seemingly forever; once graduation arrives, doctors work long hours and are faced with life-and-death decisions daily.
But there were rewards. For decades, doctors earned hefty paychecks, had autonomy and respect. But those benefits are fading, and as a result, so is the number of doctors. Within the next 15 years, the United States will experience a shortage of between 90,000 to 200,000 physicians, according to the recently published Will the Last Physician in America Please Turn Off the Lights: A Look at America’s Looming Doctor Shortage.
The American Medical Association recognizes there are shortages in certain geographic areas and in certain specialties. Part of that is due to the aging population and a stagnant number of medical-school applicants.
But there are other significant reasons. They include the increasing costs of medical malpractice coverage, higher practice costs, lower insurance reimbursement rates and insurance-company restrictions resulting in less autonomy over how patients are cared for.
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