LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - There is already a shortage of primary care physicians in the United States, and experts say it's only going to get worse.
The Association of American Medical Colleges is predicting the U.S. will be short about 160,000 doctors by 2025, nearly half of which will be primary care physicians.
One of the main factors behind the shortage is the aging population.
"You know, we have an aging population right now," said Dr. Kimberly Lansing, family physician at Gundersen Lutheran. "Our baby boomers are aging and people that are older require more medical care. On top of that, our physician population is aging right now. 1 in 5 physicians is over the age of 60 and almost half of the physician workforce is over the age of 50. So you can anticipate in the next 10 to 15 years we're going to have about half of our physician workforce retiring,"
And shortage will affect young people as well as old.
"It will affect everyone," said Dr. Lansing. "You know, it's pretty rare that you see somebody that doesn't need a doctor at some point in time and we're really going to see an effect on access to care. You know, if there's fewer physicians it's going to take longer to be able to get an appointment. Your appointment will probably be shorter and you may see your costs go up."
Since the demand for physicians is already higher than those in the workforce, medical colleges have been trying to substantially increase enrollment.
The Association of American Medical Colleges recommends enrollment increases 30% each year to keep up with the population demands.
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