Action Needed to Address Gaps in Physician Specialties

The Department of Defense (DOD) has experienced gaps between its physician authorizations (i.e., funded positions) and end strengths (i.e., number of physicians). Its overall approach to address these gaps focuses on the individual service components relying on the scholarship program, University, and other programs to recruit and retain physicians.

However, this approach does not include targeted and coordinated strategies to address key physician shortages. All of the components experienced gaps in a number of specialties; several of these were below 80 percent of authorized levels (see figure) and are in what are considered critically short wartime specialties.

Until the services develop and implement strategies to alleviate these gaps, they could be at risk of not being able to provide medical care to servicemembers during wartime.

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