Officials say Florida faces health care provider shortage

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(The Center Square) — Florida officials say that a health care provider shortage worsens as the state’s population grows larger and older simultaneously.

The Florida House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee met Wednesday to discuss the healthcare workforce in Florida.

Dr. Emma Spencer, Director at the Division of Public Health Statistics and Performance Management within the Florida Department of Health, gave a presentation on the physician workforce in the Sunshine State.

Spencer stated that according to the 2022 Physician Workforce Annual Report, the largest group of physicians in the Sunshine State are between ages 50 and 59, with an average age of 53.

Over 20% of Florida physicians are over the retirement age of 65, and Florida ranks sixth in the U.S. for the highest percentage of physicians over 60.

“There is growing demand for health care staff and job growth is expected across most types of healthcare professions and settings,” Spencer said.

Spencer added that statistics show that demand across the United States for physicians is outstripping supply.

The Association of American Medical Colleges’ state physician workforce data shows that for every 100,000 people in Florida, there are 273.9 physicians. This is below the national average of 286.5 physicians per 100,000 people, with Florida ranking 25th out of all 50 states.

“The Association of American Medical Colleges projects up to 124,000 physician shortfall by 2034, and this includes shortfalls in primary and specialty care,” Spencer said.

“The demand for nurses is also expected to grow.”

According to Spencer, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the nursing profession will grow by over 200,000. An increased emphasis on preventative care and a demand for healthcare services from an aging population will be key drivers.

Projections show that between 2022 and 2030, nurse practitioners will represent the fastest-growing occupation that requires a master’s degree or higher in Florida.

Rayna Letourneau, the Executive Director for the Florida Center for Nursing and an associate professor at the University of South Florida, said that there are 441,361 active nursing licenses in Florida. However, Letourneau also said she is concerned about the pass rates for new nurses in Florida which is historically low and well below the U.S. average.

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