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April 14, 2004

Perceptions of Physician Shortages

JAMA. 2004;291(14):1695-1696. doi:10.1001/jama.291.14.1695-c

To the Editor: In their survey of medical school deans and state medical society executives, Dr Cooper and colleagues1 reported a widespread perception of physician shortages and called for an expansion in medical education. Although the respondents were surveyed about family/general practice, general internal medicine, and primary care, they were not questioned regarding a potential shortage or surplus of hospitalists. The hospitalist model is growing rapidly and is becoming an integral part of inpatient medical care in the United States. There has been a nearly exponential growth in membership in the national society, the Society of Hospital Medicine.2 Lurie et al3 estimated a future US hospitalist workforce of 19 000—equal in size to cardiology. Furthermore, there is mounting evidence suggesting that hospitalist care leads to decreased length of stay and cost reductions and even mortality benefit, without decreases in patient satisfaction or quality of care.4,5

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