Florida’s physician shortage: It’s not just primary care and rural areas
By Jarrod Fowler, MHA FMA Director of Health Care Policy and Innovation | Updated April 21, 2022


As noted previously in FMA News, a report from IHS Markit commissioned by the Florida Safety Net Hospital Alliance and the Florida Hospital Association projects a shortfall of 17,924 physicians in the Sunshine State by the year 2035. This analysis is based on projected supply and demand, accounting for Florida’s population growth and its aging population requiring greater levels of care.

IHS projects that, by 2035, Florida will have a shortage of 5,974 “traditional primary care” specialists, which the report identifies as family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatric medicine, and geriatric medicine physicians. However, this shortage is not limited only to primary care: Around 12,000 additional specialists will be needed as well.

For instance, Florida is projected to have a shortfall of 1,519 emergency room physicians, 497 OB/GYNs, 654 anesthesiologists, 632 cardiologists, 437 hematologists and oncologists, 1,434 hospitalists, 209 orthopedic surgeons, 1,230 psychiatrists, 648 pulmonologists and critical care specialists, 737 infectious disease specialists, 514 nephrologists, 459 urologists, and thousands of other specialists as listed in Exhibit 22 of the report.

In addition to the raw numbers, the report goes on to project the percentage by which the projected supply of physicians will fall short relative to demand. According to the report, Florida will need 57% more vascular surgeons, 43% more colorectal surgeons, 55% more emergency medicine physicians, and 40% more radiation oncologists than projected to be available by the year 2035.

Adequacy of physician supply

 Adequacy of traditional PCP supply

As these maps from the report illustrate, by 2035, Florida’s physician shortfall is projected to occur in every region of the state except Miami-Dade County and Monroe County. This shortage elsewhere will encompass primary care physicians and specialists. Even within Miami-Dade and Monroe, there may be a maldistribution of physicians that makes care more accessible in some parts of those counties than in others.

What this adds up to is a need for Florida to address its physician shortage in the most comprehensive manner possible. This should include expanded loan forgiveness for physicians in underserved regions, additional GME slots to help train and retain medical students who practice in our state, and steps toward making Florida an ideal place to practice medicine in general. This could include addressing the burden associated with prior authorizations, providing parity payments for telehealth services, and enacting medical malpractice reforms that help curtail frivolous litigation.

In summary, the report simply illustrates that Florida must do everything it can to help draw physicians into our state and to help keep them here. The FMA’s mission, helping physicians practice medicine, means that we will be working toward these types of changes at every opportunity.