Primary care physician shortage by the numbers

Primary care providers are already in short supply, and the problem is only expected to get worse with a large portion of current physicians reaching retirement age and the demand for primary care continuing to grow. 

Here are seven stats on the primary care physician shortage: 

  1. The U.S. is expected to be short 17,800 to 48,000 primary care physicians by 2034, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

  2. California is projected to have a shortage of 32,669 physicians by 2030, the biggest loss of any state, according to a study conducted by Human Resources for Health. Find the other nine states expected to have the largest physician shortages here

  3. About 25 percent of physicians said they made plans for early retirement during the pandemic, according to a Medscape survey, and others said they have considered leaving medicine.

  4. In a 2020 survey, Merritt Hawkins said the pandemic has resulted in a record level of physicians seeking jobs, yet from March 2020 to July 2020, recruitment searches dropped by 30 percent.

  5. More than 2 in 5 active physicians will be older than 65 in the next decade, according to data from the American Medical Association. 

  6. Nearly 78 percent of primary care physicians practice in urban regions, while nurse practitioners and physician assistants practice more in rural areas. Here are the top five five cities with the lowest and highest ratios of providers to population. 

  7. In the U.S., 97.6 million people live in an area that has been designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area. Here are the 10 states with the largest unmet need for primary care physicians, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. 

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