Many experts are predicting a physician shortage in the coming years, particularly as aging baby boomers begin to put stress on the healthcare system. A new analysis from Mercer shines a light on the issue with a bit more specificity, pinpointing which jobs in healthcare are likely to face shortages by 2025.
Home health aides top the list, according to Mercer's stats, with a predicted shortfall of 446,300 in seven years' time. That's far and away the most of any healthcare job. Nursing assistants came in a distant second at 95,000.
Medical and clinical lab technologists face a projected shortage of 58,700; medical and lab technicians, 40,000; and nurse practitioners, 29,400. All other occupations, including surgeons, face a shortfall of an estimated 11,000.
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The findings dampen some encouraging news from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts about 2.4 million jobs will be added to the healthcare industry by 2026. That represents about 18 percent growth when tracking from 2016.
BLS expects healthcare to add more jobs than any other occupational group, due largely to the aging population generating greater demand for healthcare services. The median annual wage for healthcare practitioners and technical occupations -- such as registered nurses, physicians and surgeons, and dental hygienists -- was $64,770 in May 2017, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations in the economy, $37,690.
Last year, Janis Orlowski, MD, chief healthcare officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, conducted research looking specifically at physicians and estimated there would be a shortage of 45,000 to 105,000 physicians within the next several years. She based that number on a few different factors, including census data and behavioral information on how patients see their physicians and how often. It also factored in scenario planning, such as the effects of how the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion was incorporated in all 50 states.