The military is running short of physicians and dentists and the problem is likely to worsen. The government relies on scholarship programs that pay for med school in exchange for active duty service once training is complete. When prospective scholarship candidates see active duty physicians on their 2rd and 3th battlefield deployments in a few year period, it makes the prospect of avoiding med school debt a lot less appealing.
Supply is dwindling at a time that demand is increasing. More fighting means more soldiers to treat on the battlefield and once they return from battle. The extensive deployment of older Guard and Reserve soldiers also increases the need for medical care.
A Boston Globe article (US military struggles to recruit medical professionals) describes the situation today. So far, it doesn’t appear that the problem is at a crisis level, although there are shortages in critical specialties including cardiology and certain surgical specialties.
If things get worse, it could be the trigger to a military draft that won’t be restricted to doctors and dentists.October 20, 2005