Jamie L Wright
The passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act has spurred meaningful discussion about the shortage of primary care doctors in the United States. With the expansion of the insured population, many have wondered where these newly-insured patients will turn for primary care in the United States’ increasingly specialized medical landscape. What has not gotten as much attention, however, is the drastic shortage of geriatricians the country is already facing – one that is only getting worse due to the aging of the population.
The reason I chose this topic is because I was in charge of the Administrative support for the Internal Medicine clinic from 2008-2012. I saw firsthand how many sick and diabetic patients we had and how many providers we had and were losing. Our schedules consisted of full day schedules for most of our providers. The role for our management in this health care organization was to ensure our patients were getting the quality care they deserved in a timely manner. Our appointments were open 90 days out so these patients were able to schedule ahead of time.
According to The American Geriatrics Society, There are currently about 7,600 certified geriatricians in the United States, representing just 1.2% of physicians in the country. The American Geriatrics Society estimates, on average, each geriatrician can care for 700 older adults. Based on these figures, 5.3 million adults over the age of 65 have access to a physician who is specially trained in the complicated physical, cognitive, functional, and social issues that affect older patients. The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society estimates 30% of the 41.4 million Americans over the age of 65 (or 12.4 million people) need care from a geriatrician. As such, the United States is facing a shortage of over 10,100 geriatricians today.
As a result of this shortage, a larger percentage of elderly patients see non-specialized internal...