Our Priority: Address the Urologic Workforce Shortage
Why the Issue Matters
The United States is facing an overall shortage of physicians. Projections have shown that at least half of the shortage is among specialty medicine physicians such as urologists. In fact, only 38 percent of all U.S. counties have a practicing urologist, there have been significant declines in the number of urologists per capita, and the average age of a practicing urologist makes the specialty one of the oldest in the medical profession. While the number of specialty medicine physicians, such as urologists, is decreasing and the average age is increasing, 53.8% of urology residents have more than $150,000 in student loan debt, and for 26.8% of them, the figure is $250,000 or more.
It is imperative that we work to address the workforce shortage in all urologic access practice environments, preserve access to appropriate and timely care, expand access to care with innovations including telemedicine, and advocate for increased graduate medical education (GME) funding and resources for urology positions.
What the AUA is Doing
The AUA is an active member of the GME Advocacy Coalition, which is a group of hospital, physician, academic, and specialty stakeholder organizations that advocate on issue directly impacting the physician workforce and training.
H.R. 5924, To amend the Public Health Service Act to authorize a loan repayment program to encourage specialty medicine physicians to serve in rural communities experiencing a shortage of specialty medicine physicians – introduced by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV-01) and Peter Welch (D-VT- At Large) – would repay student loan debt for specialty physicians practicing in a rural setting:
- Payment of 1/6th of principal and interest paid annually for each year of full-time service in a practice in a rural setting
- Payment to $250,000 total
- Eligible loans include:
- Any loan for education in specialty medicine
- Any Federal Direct Stafford Loan
- Federal Direct PLUS Loan
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
- Federal Direct Consolidation Loan
- Any Federal Perkins Loan
- Any other Federal loan as determined appropriate by the Secretary
H.R. 1763 & S. 348, The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act – introduced in the House by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL-07), John Katko (R-NY-24), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM-02), and Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) and in the Senate by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – would:
- Increase the number of GME residency slots by 15,000 over the next five years;
- Direct half of the newly available positions to training in shortage specialties such as urology;
- Specify priorities for distributing the new slots (e.g., states with new medical schools); and
- Study the needs of the U.S. healthcare system to allocate residencies accordingly.