How many doctors are there in the U.S.?

… and how many got their degrees from U.S. schools?


Even though Congress is punting on healthcare (or maybe because Congress is punting on healthcare), I decided to to get better informed on the topic.

Of course, I like to start with the numbers.

Where better to start, than with the “ 2016 Census of Actively Licensed Physicians in the United States”

Note: Unless noted to the contrary, all data reported below is from this census.

Here are some of my takeaways ….

There are about 950,000 active licensed physicians (ALPs) in the U.S.

Doing the arithmetic, that works out to about 350 people per doctor … or, reversing the stat, about 295 doctors per 100,000 of population.

The number of doctors per 100,000 of population is relative even across states, with one glaring exception … that might explain our crack Congress is content dragging their heels on real healthcare reform.


Let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers ….



Roughly half of the 950,000 ALPs are Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) and roughly half are specialists. Source

On average, Americans make about 3 visits per year to office-based physicians … so, it total, Americans make about 1 billion visits each year to office-based physicians … about half of those visits are to PCPs, half to specialists. Source

 Note: Not all of the 900,000 ALPs are “office-based”. Triangulating from a couple of other sources., my best guess is another 50 / 50 split.


Approximately 75% of the ALPs got their medical degrees from a U.S. or Canadian medical school.

The converse is a number that surprised me: ABOUT 25% of the ALPs did not get their medical degrees from a U.S. or Canadian medical school … they are International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who have satisfied U.S. licensing requirements.

QUIZ TIME: Guess where most of the IMGs were educated?


My guess was the Caribbean … but, I was wrong.

About 23% of the IMG-ALPs got their medical degrees in India … 16% from Caribbean schools.

Roughly 60% of the Caribbean school graduates are U.S. citizens.


Let’s recap … here are a couple of numbers to remember if you want to impress at cocktail parties:

Almost 1 million Active Licensed Physicians in the U.S.

An even split between Primary Care Physicians and Specialists.

Roughly 75 % of ALPs got their degrees from U.S. medical schools … 25% got International Medical Degrees.

Patients make about 1 billion office visits per year.


Next, we’ll go a little deeper into physician demographics…



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One Response to “How many doctors are there in the U.S.?”

  1. A very weird data point… | The Homa Files Says:

    […] How many doctors are there in the U.S.? […]

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