Population Growth, Part-Time Practices Contribute to Physician Shortage

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The imbalance in the supply and demand for physicians — often tied to rising costs of medical malpractice liability insurance — will continue to intensify as the U.S. population continues to grow faster than the physician workforce.

In addition, pressure will come with the increasing number of physicians practicing medicine on a part-time basis, according to a new report.

The 2007 Retention Survey from the advocacy organization American Medical Group Association (AMGA) and Cejka Search, a national physician and healthcare executive search organization, reported an increase in the percentage of physicians practicing part-time from 13 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2007.

Males increased from 5 percent to 7 percent; females increased from 8 percent to 12 percent. The age group with the greatest number of physicians practicing part-time is between 35 and 39; the gender split among part-time physicians in that age group is 15 percent male and 85 percent female.

“Retirement and graduation rates tell only part of the story. Our survey took a closer look inside medical groups, and the result appears to be a rise in the number of physicians, among both genders, practicing part-time,” said Carol Westfall, president of Cejka Search. “When recruiting to retain young physicians, organizations need to be aware that these candidates place significant weight on their ability to balance time in practice with other interests and commitments. As physicians approach retirement, they also are looking for ways to achieve balance.”

Since 1980, the U.S. population has increased more than 33 percent, while the number of new doctors graduating from medical school has stayed constant, creating shortages in primary care and other specialties, according to the researchers.

The report notes that the changing profile of the typical American medical group will be influenced to a great extent by the retirement of predominantly male, Baby Boomer physicians and the emergence of the Millennial generation workforce, which is equally comprised of male and female physicians.

Some Key Findings

• Of the physicians practicing part-time, 83 percent practice more than half of a workweek and 45 percent practice at least three-quarters of a workweek.

• “Family responsibilities” was the reason given by 69 percent of female physicians and 11 percent of male physicians who practiced part-time. The predominant reasons given by males were “unrelated professional or personal pursuits” (31 percent) and “preparing for retirement” (29 percent).

• The use of physician assistants and nurse practitioners was reported by 79 percent of respondents and was most predominant among medium-sized groups and those owned by integrated delivery systems.

To obtain a copy of the Cejka Search and AMGA 2006 Physician Retention Survey, visit http://www.cejkasearch.com/news/physician-retention-survey-2007-pr.htm.

Sources: American Medical Group Association
www.amga.org

Cejka Search
www.cejkasearch.com

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