As countless adages would attest, most of the scenarios we worry about never come to fruition. Unfortunately, new data on the healthcare workforce indicate that concerns about provider shortages are an exception. According to a Definitive Healthcare report entitled Addressing the Healthcare Staffing Shortage, the United States healthcare system lost 333,942 providers in 2021—with the majority (117,000) being physicians. The grand total also included 75,999 advanced-practice practitioners (53,295 nurse practitioners and 22,704 physician assistants). Internal medicine and family medicine lost the most physicians (15,000 and 13,015, respectively). An overabundance of administrative tasks, poor work–life balance, and “insufficient salary” were the top reasons providers gave for leaving their jobs. Noting the overlap between those specific complaints and risk factors for burnout, the report suggests that “confronting burnout” is one of three strategies to address staffing shortages, with the others being “invest in telehealth” and “expand GME [graduate medical education] programs.”

The Numbers Are Mounting, and Show That Provider-Shortage Worries Are Well-Founded
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