Many people who know me at least know this one thing about me:

I love medicine, and I hope to eventually attend medical school and work in pediatrics.

This is definitely not the most beloved or desired of specialties, but that is not the most important thing for me; I just want to work in a field I love with a demographic I love. However, specialist or not, the number of doctors we have practicing is declining and will continue to. This is why we need more people interested in medicine.

First, the reason why. The American population is expected to be around 360 million people in 2030. This is a huge number, and that means lots of physicians are needed. However, the average age of physicians in the United States currently is about 48 years old. This means that these doctors will soon be retiring within the next 10-20 years, and the shortfalls predicted by the AAMC are immense; 8,000-40,000 primary care physicians, and anywhere from 33,500-61,800 physicians who are specialists (neurology, cardiology,etc.). This number is alarming; we could lose a small city of doctors by 2030.

Obviously, the consequences of such a shortage are dire: physician burnout, potential loss of quality-of-care, hospital overload, and so on. This will especially be damaging for older individuals since they oftentimes require more care for their conditions; fewer physicians specializing in what a patient needs, or even simple check-ups, could exacerbate chronic or life-threatening conditions. Couple this with the increasing life-expectancy and you have a system which isn't benefiting anyone.

How can we avoid this? There are many ways. For one, team-based care, so that more physicians are working to produce the best care possible for a patient. Utilizing the newest innovations in medical technology to improve quality. However, even with changes in processes and technology, the most important thing is obvious; get more doctors. Have more people interested in the process, willing to be trained and refined into a medical professional who can care for a patient's hypertension, diabetes, or myriad other conditions. Any type of doctor is a necessity; neurology, cardiology, endocrinology, internists, hospitalists, etcetera, etcetera.

So, if you're a person interested in becoming a doctor, consider it. Of any age, background, whatever group you could be considered part of. Go for it. Get to school, or go back to school. Take the MCAT, go to medical school. You'd be an immense help, not only to the medical community, but to every single patient you come into contact with.