Tackling the Physician Shortage Epidemic


It’s no surprise that the pandemic put a spotlight on the medical community and rallied the public behind our healthcare heroes. What does remain are questions. Will the United States be able to provide continual, consistent coverage, even in the face of health risks like another global pandemic? Do we have the capability and resources to treat an aging population even as we struggle with a population boom?

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimated that by 2034, there may be a physician shortage with a gap as large as 37,800 to124,000 healthcare professionals. This disturbing prediction includes primary care (17,800 - 48,000) as well as specialty (21,000 - 77,100) providers.

Physician Shortage Factors

Despite an increase in the number of advance practice nurses and physician assistants, the shortage crisis continues to loom for several reasons.

The Cost of the Physician Shortage

Provider scarcity dramatically impacts patient care and total revenue. According to the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), ripple effects from the shortage combined with healthcare policy changes are likely to affect operations and finance.

Without the doctors and advanced practitioners to provide essential services, patients won’t have access to procedures, surgeries and daily care that patients need. The financial impact ripples through daily operations – including supplies and staffing existing departments – and the ability to stay current with medical advances.

The chart below breaks down the average revenue that fuels health systems and physician groups capability to continually improve quality of care. Based on data from Merritt Hawkins, the chart below breaks down the average revenue a full-time specialized physician brings to a hospital annually as compared to their average salary. What we can learn from this is that the cost of not replacing a provider/addressing the physician shortage, far outweighs the cost of paying for their replacement.

Consistent, High-Quality Patient Care Solutions

The physician shortage is being addressed on many fronts, but there’s no immediate solution on the horizon. This leaves many health care systems and physician groups looking for alternatives to ensure continual coverage and consistent patient care.

Locum tenens can be a valuable resource for addressing the physician shortage with contracted physicians and advance practice providers. Partnering with a locum tenens staffing company helps healthcare organizations to reach a large, diverse pool of providers. It provides solutions that healthcare leaders are looking for when faced with the challenges of the physician shortage. Below are several ways locum tenens can help.


The physician shortage is creating challenges for healthcare systems now, but this only beginning, and it’s likely only to get worse. Acting now and building relationships with a locum tenens agency will help protect facilities in the face of this growing crisis.

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