Study: Physician Supply Declines In Western New York

New York continues to see a decline in physician supply in the Finger Lakes and Western New York, despite overall gains statewide, according to a new study by the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health. The report, Annual New York Physician Workforce Profile 2006, also finds that underrepresented minorities (Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos and American Indians) which account for about 35 percent of New York’s population, still represent only about 10 percent of the physician workforce.

“While the overall supply of physicians in New York continues to grow, we need to monitor the changing distribution of doctors across the state,” said Jean Moore, director of Center. “The Finger Lakes, Western New York and the North Country regions all face distinctive challenges in assuring an adequate supply of primary care physicians in order to avert potential shortages.”

Key findings of the report include:

The ratio of physicians to the population was highest in the New York City region, with 364 active patient care physicians per 100,000 persons. The ratio was lowest in the Mohawk Valley, with 147 physicians per 100,000 persons.

Despite overall growth in the physician supply between 2001 and 2005, the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions experiences physician declines of six percent and 10 percent, respectively, between 2001 and 2005.

Underrepresented minorities made up 10 percent of the physician workforce in 2005, while accounting for 35 percent of New York’s general population.

Of the 77,471 licensed physicians in New York, 80 percent were active patient care physicians. Of these, 70 percent were located in downstate New York (Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk and Westchester counties), and 79 percent were in urban counties.

Between 2001 and 2005, primary care physician supply grew in all regions of the state except the Finger Lakes, North Country, and Western New York. The change in primary care physician supply ranged from a two percent decline in the Finger Lakes to an eight percent decline in the North Country.

Non-primary care physician supply increased in all regions except Finger Lakes, North Country and Western New York. Non-primary care supply declined 11 percent in Western New York.

Physicians were predominately male (71 percent) in 2005. However, women physicians were significantly younger than men, reflecting the growing number of women entering the profession. The average age of female physicians was 47.0, versus 52.5 for male physicians.

Thirty-five percent of active patient care physicians reported that they were International Medical Graduates (IMGs), that is, they attended medical school in a foreign country other than Canada. There were significant variations in the percentage of IMGs by specialty, with pathology and physical medicine and rehabilitation each reporting 52 percent and dermatology reporting fewer than nine percent.

Group practice was the largest principal practice setting in 2005, with 37 percent of responding physicians. Solo practice (28 percent) and hospital practice (26 percent) were the next most frequent settings.

The Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health conducts studies of the supply, demand, use, and education of the health workforce, and collects and analyzes data to better understand workforce dynamics and trends.

Through its partnership with the New York State Dept. of Health, UAlbany’s School of Public Health offers students immediate access to internships at the Health Department, Albany Medical College, and variety of other public and private health institutions throughout New York. Students have unique access to study the most profound health issues facing us today: the threat of bioterrorism, the spread of HIV/AIDS and other emerging diseases, the lack of affordable and accessible health care for individuals and families, environmental hazards, substance abuse and social violence, maternal mortality in developing countries, the promises and threats of genetic engineering, and protecting food and water supplies. 1-17-07
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