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Nov 12, 2013 8:46 PM by Erika Flores

Projected doctor shortage in 2020

TUCSON - America is aging and more people are enrolling in the Affordable Care Act, so we need thousands of doctors.

If we don't get them, it's possible we'll face longer wait times, longer drives to get to a doctor and shorter visits.

Some patients are hopeful, but they do worry that the shortage will cause doctors to stop accepting new patients or stop accepting Medicare something that so many patients really on.

We all need them; some more than others and as the population grows and people age, the need for doctors increases.

But according to the Association of American Medical College, by 2020, there will be a shortage of more than 91,500 doctors.

According to AAMC, there are several reasons for this: 250,000 physicians are expected to retire in 2020, there's a cap on the number of federally supported residency training positions, and it takes around seven years for a doctor to get trained; more if that doctor is studying a specialty.

"I am not in the best shape. I've had nine bypasses, seven stints, five heart attacks," said Bob Simmen.

Seeing a doctor is crucial for Simmen.

"That's what's keeping me alive is the doctors that take such great care of me," said Simmen.

His cardiologist Charles Katzenberg is president of the Pima County Medical Society.

"Fewer than 40 percent of our physicians are primary care (in the U.S.)" said Katzenberg.

He said more and more physicians are staying out of practice longer to specialize due to debt.

"It's going to take us probably 5 to 10 years to begin to catch up," said Katzenberg.

The medical field is looking at ways to help combat that doctor shortage.

One way they said is to have nurse practitioners help fill in the gaps.

To see the Association of American Medical College's projection on the doctor shortage click here.

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