Experts say America is facing a shortage of 90,000 doctors as increasing demand and retiring physicians create a void in this increasingly sick and obese nation. Statistics show that the U.S. has 2.56 doctors for every 1,000 people, placing it 24th out of 28 countries in a study carried out in 2013, and the nation ranks 30th out of 35 countries when it comes to medical graduates.
Some of the fields that are facing he biggest shortages include internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry and ob/gyn.
There could be a shortage of as many as 35,000 primary care physicians by 2025, and some medical schools are putting primary care applicants at the top of their admissions list to help ease the deficit.
Many older physicians who are retiring say they are fed up with the amount of paperwork and the reduced time they have available to spend with patients. At the same time, Baby Boomers are getting older and suffering more complicated conditions like dementia and cancer.
Unhealthy habits driving demand for doctors
It’s hardly shocking that the demand for doctors is rising given the bad habits that have taken hold across the nation. Poor eating is a big factor, with toxic foods making people not only gain weight but also become ill. USDA statistics show that the average American ate nearly 20 percent more calories in 2000 than they did in 1983, and meat consumption is said to be largely to blame. Added fats have also risen by around 67 percent during the same period, while grain consumption has climbed 45 percent since 1970.
Moreover, the national penchant for fast food – which reportedly makes up 11 percent of the average American’s diet – and sugary drinks is seeing cases of diabetes shoot through the roof. This, combined with the fact that Americans burn around 140 fewer calories on average per day than they did 50 years ago, is a recipe for sickness.
Risky, ineffective medications create endless cycle
Obesity-related problems like diabetes and heart disease send people to their physicians, who often prescribe them medications that cause other side effects, spurring a never-ending cycle of medicating and doctor visits. For example, studies have found no evidence that the statins that doctors prescribe for so many Americans improve their odds of survival, and they cause side effects in nearly a third of all users that range from mild to extremely troubling.
It’s also not unusual to see fields like psychiatry suffering shortages given the widespread use of antidepressants. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that one out every six Americans filled a prescription for one or more psychiatric drugs in 2013, most of which were long-term prescriptions.
In particular, antidepressant use has skyrocketed in recent years, growing by a mind-boggling 400 percent between the period from 1988 and 1994, to the years between 2005 and 2008. These drugs have a raft of dangerous side effects, increasing one’s risk of a host of diseases like breast cancer and heart disease, thereby necessitating even more doctors. Making matters worse is the fact that more than 92 percent of antidepressants do not even relieve a person’s depression symptoms, ensuring many future trips to the psychiatrist.
It’s no surprise that Americans need more doctors given our toxic food, water, air and medications. While medical schools scramble to try to give more doctors their credentials, why aren’t we making a more concerted effort to teach people how to eat healthy and get fit, and remove the toxins in our environment, so that fewer people will get sick in the first place?