STUDY: FLORIDA FACING CRITICAL SHORTAGE OF PHYSICIAN SPECIALISTS THROUGH 2025Published: Feb 17, 2015
By Tampa General Hospital
To meet future health care needs, the Teaching Hospital Council of Florida and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida seek to expand graduate medical education programs. TAMPA, FL (Feb. 17, 2015) – As the population continues to grow, change and age, Florida will face a critical shortage of specialty physicians over the next 10 years unless more medical residency training positions are created, the state’s top teaching hospitals announced today. Florida has known for some time about its shortage of doctors. However, a study of physician supply and demand commissioned by the Teaching Hospital Council of Florida and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida found the shortage will grow to 7,000 physician specialists by 2025. This shortfall spans 19 specialties, with the largest areas of need in psychiatry, family practice, general surgery, radiology and other specialty fields. “Florida has fallen behind in training enough physicians to meet our citizens’ growing need for quality health care,’’ said Jim Burkhart, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital “This study shows the projected shortfall across the state. Here in Tampa Bay, we face a shortage of specialists in areas that are vital to residents’ health, such as cardiology and endocrinology.” Florida ranks near the bottom nationwide in the number of residency training slots relative to its population. As a result, Florida would need to create and fill 13,568 residency positions to fully resolve the physician shortage by 2025. That equates to about 1,360 new residency slots a year for the next 10 years. The study showed Florida will face a 19 percent shortfall of physician specialists by 2025, compared with just a 7 percent shortage of overall physicians. Shortfalls will exist to varying degrees across all regions. The region that includes Tampa General faces a deficit in several specialties. Four specialties – rheumatology, pulmonology and critical care, cardiology and endocrinology – face projected deficits of more than 40 percent. The study also projects that this region will have the second-largest shortage in the state of general and family practitioners in Florida, with a gap of 268 physicians, or a 37 percent shortage. Ultimately, creating additional medical residency slots could encourage more medical school graduates to stay and practice in Florida, a secondary component of the study concludes. In a sampling of more than 16,600 active physicians, the study found that where medical school graduates conducted their residencies played a crucial role in where they chose to practice. Unfortunately, Florida is losing almost two-thirds of its medical school graduates to out-of-state residency programs. “We cannot continue exporting our medical school graduates to other states simply because we lack an adequate number of residency slots in our state’s teaching hospitals,’’ Burkhart said. “We need to keep these Florida-trained physicians in Florida to fill the projected shortfalls in key specialties. We’ve made enormous investments in them that we should leverage for the benefit of the people who need their services.’’ Gov. Rick Scott made closing the gap between physician supply and demand a priority in 2013 by proposing $80 million in recurring state funds for a new residency program, saying it was important to create jobs in fields where demand will remain high. In his 2015-16 budget package, Governor Scott is proposing to increase graduate medical education funding by another $7.5 million annually. The study validates the importance of expanding the state’s commitment, particularly for specialty fields with doctor shortages. As part of adding residency positions, teaching hospital officials advocate offering financial incentives to both hospitals that create slots for specialties with shortages and to medical residents who pursue jobs in those areas. The study was conducted by IHS Global for the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida and the Teaching Hospital Council of Florida, whose seven member hospitals last year trained 3,392 medical residents, about two-thirds of the state’s medical residents. The Teaching Hospital Council is part of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, an association of 14 teaching, public and children’s hospitals providing specialized medical care and training for future doctors.