LAST year, four respected policymaking bodies released reports calling for physician workforce and medical education reform.1-4 These reports reflect widespread consensus that the physician workforce, in both numbers and competencies, does not match well with the nation's health care needs. They further point out that the United States has neither a national physician workforce plan nor a health care reimbursement and medical education financing strategy to correct the deficiencies.
These independently developed reports also demonstrate striking convergence on the major directions for physician workforce reform (see Table on next page). Each group proposed a series of national goals or targets for the appropriate physician supply, specialty mix, and distribution. They recommended that the proportion of generalist physicians (defined as family physicians, general internists, and general pediatricians) should be significantly increased, the workforce should be better geographically distributed, and the current physician-to-population ratio should be maintained currently at 253 physicians