New Jersey is home to 48 “teaching hospitals” that provide essential education and experience to the next generation of physicians and other clinicians. Their work will become more important than ever as the country faces a looming physician shortage.
The United States is expected to face a shortage of 62,000 physicians by 2015, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges
By 2020, the shortfall is expected to exceed 91,000. Clearly, the current supply of physicians is not sufficient to meet the demands of an aging population and a changing healthcare system with greater emphasis on primary care. The shortage will only be exacerbated by the 32 million Americans we expect will get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Teaching hospitals are essential to the future of healthcare delivery, not only because they serve as the “classrooms” for physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, but because they are centers for the development of emerging medical services through research and clinical trials. Teaching hospitals provide many specialized services including burn units, transplantation programs and trauma centers. And they perform yet another essential social service – safety net healthcare to New Jersey’s uninsured.
I am proud of the contributions of all of our state’s hospitals – large and small, urban and suburban, independent or part of a larger system. Each holds a unique and valuable place in our healthcare delivery system. And so it is with teaching hospitals, who serve the larger healthcare community by preparing the physicians of tomorrow.
Statistics show that about 30 percent of the nation’s physicians will enter retirement age in the next decade. Their replacements are preparing for the future today in our teaching hospitals.