For at least a decade, the United States has experienced worsening workforce shortages in the health professions. Analysts now are projecting a nationwide shortage of almost 100,000 physicians, as many as one million nurses, and 250,000 public health professionals by 2020.
Due to the high cost of health insurance and increasingly pervasive staffing shortfalls in the health professions, at least 50 million Americans lack access to the most basic care. A third are children.
The physician workforce is aging, average hours worked are falling, and many physicians are nearing retirement just as growth and aging of the population and advances in technology contribute to a growing demand for physician services.
The pharmacy vacancy rate has fallen from 8 percent in 2000 to approximately 5 percent in 2004, equivalent to a shortage of about 10,400 pharmacists nationwide.
Employment in nursing has risen to its highest level since 1980 -- nearly 85 percent of registered nurses with active licenses according to the most recent National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses.