March 26, 1997

Benchmarking the Physician Workforce-Reply

Author Affiliations

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Princeton, NJ

JAMA. 1997;277(12):966. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540360034025

In Reply.  —Dr Floch argues that the intrinsic uncertainties in workforce projections should persuade us to preserve the status quo—ie, to leave the current level of funding for GME unchanged. It is an argument to delight the purist, since at some level all social science research is imprecise. Nevertheless, the implications of the status quo are too significant to ignore. For example, the numbers of filled residency positions in the United States—supported by federal and tax dollars—have expanded from about 18 000 in 1980 to almost 25 000 in 1995, including nearly 7000 that are filled by IMGs.1The study by Dr Goodman and colleagues,2 in which the national supply of both generalist and specialist physicians exceed 3 different benchmarks, is but the latest in a series of reports, beginning with the 1980 GMENAC report,3 that predict an oversupply of physicians.2 Floch is correct that GMENAC badly underestimated