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Physician Shortage Crisis in Cedar Rapids

For immediate release: May 9, 2024

DES MOINES, IA – Iowa is currently facing a physician workforce shortage crisis and is ranked 45th in the nation for patient-to-physician ratios per 100,000 population. To address the shortage and other state healthcare priorities, the Iowa Medical Society (IMS) will be in Cedar Rapids to meet with the healthcare community to discuss these pressing issues on Wednesday, May 22.


“Communities like Cedar Rapids are essential to the progress of addressing Iowa’s physician shortage. With the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine so close by, we must focus on retaining graduates through strategic residency placements,” said Alison Lynch, MD, and IMS president-elect. “Collaboration with universities and healthcare partners is key. Every Iowan deserves access to healthcare, and we're committed to making that possible by increasing the number of physicians practicing here.”


Medical students choosing Iowa

One shining example is Alexandra Sharp, MD candidate, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine (soon to be graduate) who begins her OB/GYN residency in Iowa City this summer.

“The faculty and residents were welcoming and supportive and I felt like this was the place for me,” Sharp said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the providers I have worked with and received incredible training at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.”

Sharp said she felt at home in the obstetrics and gynecology department and recognizes the “opportunity to improve the health and wellness of women throughout the state.”

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, in 2021, there was a shortage of about 46,000 doctors in the U.S. and by 2034, that number is expected to climb as high as 124,000. Up to 48,000 of these will be primary care physicians.


Iowa physician workforce supply to demand is decreasing from 75% adequacy in 2023 to a projected 71% in 2036, according to the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. This creates significant challenges to providing quality healthcare for patients, large amounts of stress, and greater workloads resulting in burnout.


Impact to Cedar Rapids

“Cedar Rapids is facing a challenging situation with a persistent physician shortage across various specialties, including internal medicine, surgery, and trauma care,” said Fadi Yacoub, MD, Mercy Cedar Rapids and IMS board member. “The impact on primary care is especially noteworthy with patients experiencing significantly longer wait times for appointments. The loss of the family practice residency program has added to these challenges, highlighting the city's reliance on external programs to meet healthcare needs,” he said.


Dr. Yacoub noted that collaborating with entities like the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and Des Moines University is “crucial for filling healthcare positions and addressing this ongoing issue effectively.”


Addressing the crisis

IMS is leading a statewide effort to expand the physician workforce. To aid in the recruitment and retention of physicians, IMS supports:

  • An increase from $2.5 million to $4 million for full funding of the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program.
  • Policy efforts to implement the Iowa Rural Healthcare Workforce Strategic Action Plan.
  • An increase in funding for additional positions within current residency and fellowship programs.
  • Seeking opportunities for new residency and fellowship programs in Iowa.
  • Advocating for tax credit incentives for preceptors and new Iowa-based physicians.


To listen, gather insights, and share strategies to address the critical physician shortage, IMS will host a series of meetings in Cedar Rapids throughout the day May 22, followed by a networking reception starting at 5 p.m. at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano, 320 Collins Road NE.

About us

The Iowa Medical Society, established in 1850, is the largest and oldest statewide professional association for Iowa physicians representing more than 6,000 members. Our mission is to advance the practice of medicine through advocacy, education, and engagement with physicians throughout Iowa to ensure the highest quality of care for the patients they serve. Visit our website at


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