Why Isn’t the Country Getting the Physicians We Need?

Tradeoffs podcast examines the way federal funding formulas influence where new doctors choose to work

Letter from The National Matching Program
Photo: Leslie Walker

Every year on the third Friday in March, tens of thousands of graduating medical students find out where they will continue their training by working as medical residents. The US spends close to $20 billion each year to fund those residencies, with 20% of that money going to programs in New York State alone. But now, as the coronavirus pandemic underscores the importance of a physician workforce that can deliver health care services, why isn’t the country getting the doctors we need?

The inability of states to produce the physician workforces they need can lead to delays in routine care, especially in rural and underserved communities, as well as long wait times for specialists. Research shows, for instance, that people who live in rural areas die younger from heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Listen to the full episode of Tradeoffs below or read the transcript, and visit the Tradeoffs website for more information.

Tradeoffs: Match DayMarch 20, 2020


Anupam Jena, MD, PhD, associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School

Dan Gorenstein, Health care journalist and executive producer of Tradeoffs


Candice Chen, MD, MPH, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at George Washington University

Ted Epperly, MD, president and CEO of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho

Atul Grover, MD, PhD, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges

The California Health Care Foundation is a cofunder of Tradeoffs.

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