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Call To Increase Family Physicians

The U.S. physician workforce has released a study saying that more family physicians are needed to treat an aging US population. Researchers from the University// of Utah School of Medicine and the Utah Medical Education Council said that the health needs of the population were increasing, so new hands were needed.

The report, titled "Family Physician Workforce Reform: Recommendations of the American Academy of Family Physicians" has been approved by the American Academy of Family Physicians' (AAFP) Congress of Delegates, the organization's governing body, as the AAFP's official workforce policy.

The new AAFP policy confirms data showing the United States does not have an adequate number of primary care physicians to care for all Americans. However, the study goes further to claim the nation is experiencing a dire shortage of family physicians specifically. The report asserts that unless the U.S. health care system changes soon, the shortage will become even more severe within the next 10 years as the American population continues to age and the need for health care increases.

"We've known for a long time the nation needs more primary care physicians," said Rick Kellerman, M.D., president of the AAFP. "And our new workforce policy makes the case that family physicians are the specialists that can close the current gaps in our country's health care system."

The report explains that to meet the nation's anticipated need for primary care in the year 2020, the United States must have at least 139,531 family physicians, or a ratio of 41.6 family physicians per 100,000 people. (In 2004, there were 31.2 family physicians per 100,000 people.) To achieve that target, 3,725 family physicians will need to be produced annually by Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited family medicine residencies, and 714 annually by American Osteopathic Association (AOA)-accredited family medicine residencies. The
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