43 US states have a higher proportion of primary care physicians to residents than Texas and 35 out 80 Texas counties have no doctors at all. According to news reports, there are not enough doctors in Texas, especially in certain rural stretches of South Texas. The shortage will require training — and retaining — more physicians in Texas but one main problem is that the state needs to add more residency slots for post-graduate medical training to remain competitive — a problem that has plagued Texas. In another article, it is stated that Texas Universities churn out doctors at a high rate yet once the doctors graduate they relocated to other states due tot he fact that there are not enough residency spots to train all these young doctors. According to this study of The Physician Workforce in Texas, the physician workforce in Texas:
- Approximately 63,000 licensed physicians reside in Texas. Of these, 46,953 are in active patient care and this is considered the net physician workforce in the state in this report. They serve a population of 26,448,193 Texas residents.
- Texas ranks 41st among the 50 states in active patient care physicians per 100,000 population. It would require 12,819 additional physicians to bring Texas in line with the national average of physicians per 100,000 population.
- Texas ranks 47th in the nation in active primary care physicians (PCPs) per 100,000 population.
- 35 Texas counties have no physicians of any kind.
- 80 Texas counties have five or fewer physicians.
- 147 Texas counties have no obstetrician/gynecologist.
- 185 Texas counties have no general psychiatrist.
- 158 Texas counties have no general surgeon.
In the midst of the doctor shortage, the state is still home to 4.5 million people without health coverage, the largest share in the country. Texas ranks 2 nd in total population of US residents, and as residents in Texas live longer and need access to physicians for palliative care, hospice care, nursing home care, and other healthcare services, it is crucial that the state find ways to recruit and retain more doctors. Why? The state does not have enough physicians to keep up with the growing demand of the aging population and are needed because:
- Texas is growing at a fast and consistent rate, both through new births and through in-migration;
- Texans are living longer, and, as people age they require more physician services;
- More specialty care is now available;
- Texans of all ages are seeking more physician services;
- Texas’ vast expanses of rural and border areas have long-standing physician shortages;
- The increasing prevalence of health conditions such as obesity require more health care; and
- A regular succession of groundbreaking innovations in medical science is resulting in a proliferation of new treatments and services.