Fewer Physicians, More Non-Physician Clinicians Providing Health Care

From 1997 to 2004, investigators at the Medical College of Wisconsin:

  • Acquired and analyzed data on both the physician and non-physician clinical workforces in the United States.
  • Developed plans for a Center for Health Care Workforce Research.
  • Established a Multidisciplinary Health Care Workforce Consortium to address issues related to forecasting the supply of physician and non-physician clinicians.

Key Findings

  • Investigators found that the number of physicians nationally is not keeping up with population growth, leading to a potential shortage of 20 percent (or 200,000) in the needed workforce of physicians by 2020 or 2025.

  • They expect the number of non-physician clinicians in 10 disciplines whose services most overlap those of physicians to increase by two-thirds from 228,000 in 1995 to 384,000 in 2005, and increase with similar growth rates in the years thereafter. Primary care disciplines have the greatest projected growth.