U.S. urologists urge Congress to acknowledge the importance of specialty medicine and address urological workforce shortages that jeopardize patient access to care. We ask Senators to cosponsor the “Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act” to be introduced by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). In addition, we urge Representatives to be original cosponsors of the “Training Tomorrow’s Doctors Today Act” to be introduced by Representatives Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Kathy Castor (D-FL).
Both the “Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act,” and the “Training Tomorrow’s Doctors Today Act” will provide much-needed reforms to improve the nation’s graduate medical education (GME) system and help to preserve access to specialty care by increasing the number of GME residency slots by 15,000 over the next five years; directing half of the newly available positions to training in shortage specialties such as urology; specifying priorities for distributing the new slots (e.g., states with new medical schools); and studying the needs of the U.S. healthcare system in order to allocate residencies accordingly.
The United States will face an overall shortage of more than 130,000 physicians by 2025 and one-half of this shortage will come from specialty physicians such as urologists. Urology has seen a greater than 10 percent decline in the number of urologists per capita over the past 20 years. In 2009, there were only 3.18 urologists per 100,000 population, which marked a 30-year low in the labor force for our field. The average age of a urologist is 51 years, with more than 38 percent of urologists age 55 or older, making our specialty the second oldest only to thoracic surgery.
The Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Professions, in its 2008 report, projected a need for 14,000 urologists by 2015 and 16,000 urologists by 2020. These data are congruent with other independent projections that show that by 2030 urology will face a 32 percent (3,884 urologists) deficiency in the number of providers necessary to adequately care for a projected population of 364 million U.S. citizens. A recent American Urological Association (AUA) Workforce and Compensation Survey indicated that up to 20 percent of currently practicing urologists plan to retire in the next five to ten years. We need to take steps now to ensure a fully trained specialty physician workforce for the future.
To join as a cosponsor of the “Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act,” please contact Sasha Albohm (Sen. Nelson) at 4-5274 or Sasha_Albohm@nelson.senate.gov; or Veronica Duron (Sen. Schumer) at 4-6542 or email@example.com.
To join as a cosponsor of the “Training Tomorrow’s Doctors Today Act,” please contact Margie Almanza (Rep. Schock) at 5-6201 or Margie.Almanza@mail.house.gov or Elizabeth Brown (Rep. Castor) at 5-3376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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