Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Census Estimates Predict Doctor Shortage and Younger Workforce

According to an article in Medscape Medical News, US Census Bureau estimates are predicting a younger physican workforce as new doctors replace the large number of current doctors that are expected to reach retirement age over the next 10 years. The Census is also estimating a workforce shortage that is larger than predictions based on data from the American Medical Association's Physician Masterfile.

Census estimates predict an increase of young physicians in the 25 - 34 year old age range, based on the number of current first-year residents. However, Census data also shows that the US may face a shortage of up to 200,000 active physicians by 2020, while the AMA Masterfile predicts only 100,000 fewer physicians.

Although the Census and AMA data do not provide a conclusive outlook on the possible physician shortage, we should start preparing just in case. Health reform is expected to increase patient intake as more people will have access to coverage and care. Also, incidents like the H1N1 pandemic have shown the need for a solid workforce as hospitals face higher admission rates.

Another interesting aspect of this article is the younger workforce that is expected over the next decade. As MSPs, we will still be charged with identifying competent and qualified providers, but it is our role in medical staff management that may see some changes. With many of the current physicians expected to retire in the coming years, it will be interesting to see how the new generation of doctors will step into the roles of medical staff leadership and governance.

Source: Medscape Medical News

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