Despite more medical students being matched to residency programs this year than last, and an increased number of positions being offered, more than 1,800 US. medical students didn’t get placed into a position this year, according to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). This disparity points to a continued need for more residency positions, and students, residents and physicians will consider proposed resolutions on the topic at the 2014 AMA Annual Meeting.

In the face of a projected physician shortage by the end of the next decade, medical schools increased their enrollment—but residency positions didn’t increase at the same rate. The “bottleneck” is worsened by the aging U.S. population that needs more doctors. Other factors, like increased insurance coverage, a growing population and retiring physicians, exacerbate the need for doctors.

“If we don’t train physicians, we will experience a decrease in doctors right as we will be needing more,” said Atul Grover, MD, PhD, chief public policy officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Grover addressed congressional staffers at an AAMC briefing early this month. 

According to the NRMP, an all-time high of more than 40,000 people registered for the 2014 Match. This year, 975 U.S. allopathic medical school seniors and 864 previous U.S. grads went unmatched.

Groups like the AAMC and the AMA’s Save GME campaign are urging Congress to maintain or increase federal funding for graduate medical education (GME) to allow for more residency positions, which would mean more doctors.

The AMA House of Delegates will consider items related to GME at the AMA Annual Meeting June 7-11 in Chicago. Resolution 312 asks the AMA to work with other stakeholders to evaluate current data or conduct new studies to secure more information about the overall GME picture, while Resolution 304 asks the AMA to explore innovative funding models to increase residency positions.

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