A recent projection from the American Association of Medical Colleges states that the US will be short nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032, including primary care physicians. The main cause of these projected devastating shortages is the aging of both doctors and patients. In addition, health care needs are changing as more patients suffer with serious chronic health problems and quick fixes are hard to find.
Licensed naturopathic doctors can help both ease the coming primary care shortage and shift the focus of care to preventive, whole person medicine.
Over the past decade, there’s been a nationwide shift to embrace licensed naturopathic doctors as high-quality primary care providers. NDs are now officially recognized as primary care providers in states like Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Vermont, New Mexico and Idaho, and are included on Medicaid and insurance plans in a number of states. Licensed naturopathic doctors in Oregon and Vermont have been appointed to serve on the state’s healthcare workforce committees, charged with finding solutions to shortages in the provider healthcare workforce. With NDs being added to health care teams in places like the Veteran’s Administration and Federally Qualified Health Centers, patients can expect to encounter more of these holistically-trained practitioners.