AS THE AMERICAN population ages, our need for specialist care is growing faster than medical schools can turn out graduates. The Association of
American Medical Colleges predicts a shortfall of up to 61,800
specialists by 2030.
This news is particularly ominous for Marin County,
where 20 percent of residents are 65 or older, compared to a
national average of 14. 4 percent. By 2030, one in three Marin
residents will be over 60, according to a county report.
“Individuals, as they age, need more specialists,” Dr. Janis
Orlowski, AAMC’s chief health care officer, says.
Dr. Joel Sklar, chief medical officer at Marin General
“Neurology is definitely an issue as we have more and
Hospital, identifies the specialists most needed by an aging
population as oncologists, neurologists, orthopedists and
cardiologists. Sklar, a cardiologist, expects his field to be able
to keep up with demand here, along with cancer specialists
and orthopedists. But neurologists are likely to be in short
supply, he warns.
more memory and movement problems with Alzheimer’s
and Parkinson’s,” he says.
And as patients age, our doctors are aging too.
“It is hard to recruit young people in Marin, in part
because of the differential between income and real estate
prices. You can go to Omaha or South Carolina and be paid
similarly, and the price of real estate is just vastly different,”
Specialists who treat older people aren’t the only ones
likely to be scarce in coming years. The following specialties
are also under pressure:
A Special Problem
What are Marin medical professionals doing about the short
supply of new doctors? BY CARRIE KIRBY