Our Ideas

Doctor Shortage Solutions in Brief


The U.S. faces a significant provider shortage. According to a 2019 report by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the U.S. lacks almost 15,000 primary care providers, over 10,000 dental workers, and almost 7,000 mental health specialists.

While 2020 presidential contenders have already proposed several ideas for expanding health care access, they haven’t discussed how the U.S. can ensure it has enough providers to deliver that care.

Today, The New Center releases a new policy paper entitled, “Closing the Doctor Gap”, which proposes a targeted, multi-pronged approach to addressing the shortage of doctors projected in the decades ahead.

This paper is one of many reform ideas from our health care agenda that we believe can collectively move America closer to health care for all. New Center suggests several proposals – implementable at the federal and local levels and in the private sector – to solve the problem:

Encouraging the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) to remove red tape for competent foreign doctors.

Foreign doctors make up one fourth of the general U.S. physician workforce, and between 2000 and 2013, made up more than 33% of doctors entering the field of family medicine, where shortages are especially acute.

Encouraging the American Medical Association (AMA) to reform the inefficiencies of medical school curricula.

A 2012 study published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association found that the length of medical training could be shortened by up to 30% without reducing the quality of the physician.

Encouraging states to expand the scope of practice of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified nurse midwives.

Nurse practitioners lack full practice rights in 28 U.S. states despite research showing equal levels of both patient satisfaction and health outcomes between patients who saw physicians and patients who saw independent nurse practitioners.

Funding the construction of new medical schools and the expansion of old ones.

While federal funding of U.S. medical schools had amounted to 50% of medical schools’ revenues in 1965, it made up less than 19% by 2016.

Building infrastructure to clear the way for telemedicine.

In 2014, only 19 states had passed legislation to guarantee telemedicine reimbursement from third-party payers.


The full “Closing the Doctor Gap” paper is available for download here.