At the AMA House of Delegates meeting Dec. 6-9 in Honolulu, an AMA advisory council will be recommending that the AMA abandon its longstanding position that there is a physician surplus, but the council stops short of declaring a shortage.
Physician search firms have been reporting shortages in some specialties. In September, the federal Council on Graduate Medical Education declared a shortage and called for a 15% increase in medical school graduates by 2015.
Supply experts say there is no time to lose because takes at least 14 years from deciding to boost medical school output until extra graduating residents emerge at the other end of the supply "pipeline."
But in its new report, the AMA Council on Medical Education says that without a detailed study on physician supply, it "may be premature" to declare a shortage.
At the same AMA meeting, however, four specialty societies--the American College of Cardiology, the American Thoracic Society, the American College of Chest Physicians and the Society of Critical Care Medicine--plan to ask the AMA to come out with a stronger statement and declare a shortage of physicians.
"Although previously it was found that there was an abundance of physicians in certain medical areas, several published studies have documented physician shortages in many areas and specialties," a resolution submitted by the societies reads.
The resolution adds that the AMA's stance on physician supply will influence government policies and "drive supply issues for many years into the future."