I came across a graph in AM News depicting how the physician population is aging.
Notice how the the distribution of physicians in 1970 (brown graph) was skewed toward younger physicians.
By 2008 (yellow graph), the number of young physicians is significantly lower than any other demographic – including physicians 65 years old and older.
The graph demographics don’t state whether the physicians are practicing medicine or whether they still even have licenses, so it’s tough to compare whether the amount of available care per patient is changing.
Oh, and for disclosure, the graph is from the AMA statistics, so according to some people that read this blog, the information is biased, comes from a shill organization organized by Phil Howard, and only represents the insurance companies, the Mafia, those Nigerian phone scam artists, and all those people who club baby seals to death.
But the thing that caught my eye about the graph was that if the older physicians who are still practicing get fed up and retire, the country stands to lose a substantial proportion of its physicians. The numbers on the graph put the number of physicians 65 and older at around 200,000 and the number of physicians 55-64 at a little less than 200,000.
One of the other things that bothers me is that, according to this graph, the country doesn’t seem to be replacing older physicians with younger ones.
The population is growing, not shrinking.
What would a decline in younger physicians mean for future generations of patients?