Combating the Physician Shortage in California

California is facing a physician shortage. This physician shortage poses a serious challenge to both the medical industry and its patients.

What is causing this shortage? There are a variety of factors coming in play. Here is the scoop on current statistics and future predictions regarding the physician shortage in California.

Alarming statistics

One third of the current physicians employed in California are over 55 years of age and hope to retire soon. This poses a threatening shortage of physicians for the Golden State. At this time, there are approximately 50 primary care physicians per 100,000 people in California. In some rural areas there are less than 50 physicians per 100,000. The federal government recommends between 60 and 80 physicians per 100,000.

Given the facts above, by 2030, the state could face a shortage of up to 10,000 primary care physicians. Remote rural, and inner-city, areas will be hit particularly hard by this shortage.


Empty Hospital Lobby

With so few doctors available, patients will experience long waits for visits and travel great distances to see a physician. In some cases, this may result in a lack of preventive care, as patients forego treatment rather than endure the inconvenience. For others, the lack of options may mean they do not receive ongoing treatment for serious conditions. In the end, both situations result in poor health and greater emergency care that could have been prevented with better access to doctors.


What is behind this shortage? First, graduating residents are trending toward specialty care for higher salaries. Typical compensation for a primary care position is not as appealing when residents are exiting medical school and residency hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Low reimbursements cause medical professionals to shy away from primary care specialties. This also steers them away from low-income areas, increasing the shortage of doctors for this sector of the population.


What is the cure for this shortage? That is up for debate. Better reimbursements for primary care and low-income practices could help encourage physicians to pursue these areas of practice. Reduction in medical school costs could also help. In the end, there must be greater incentive for professionals to pursue these careers. Some senior physicians are hanging on to their practice until they can find replacements, but eventually, new doctors must take the reins.

Working to fill the shortage

Tracy Zweig Associates, Inc. is a physician registry and placement firm that has been serving the entire state of California since 1995. We are dedicated exclusively to the placement of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants in both locum tenens and permanent positions within the state. For more information, contact our team today.