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Comment & Response
September 19, 2017

Shortage or Surplus of Physicians in the United States—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA. 2017;318(11):1070. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11521

In Reply Dr Butt, Dr Kruse, and Drs Farnbach Pearson and Larson dispute our estimates on whether a physician shortage truly exists. We believe that their math is mistaken.

In all of our calculations, we were quite conservative, allotting 12 half-hour primary care appointments per day (just 6 hours of patient time per day) and physician panel sizes of 1500 patients. The calculations assumed physicians worked just 40 weeks per year. These assumptions leave more than sufficient time—2 to 4 hours per day and several weeks per year—for physicians to fulfill the myriad other nonclinical responsibilities cited by Butt, such as administration, responding to emails, and teaching medical students and house staff.