Blog | Tuesday, July 31, 2012

QD: News Every Day--Putting numbers on the next decade's doctor shortage

One-third of doctors intend to leave medicine in the next decade, while in the past year alone one in eight went part-time, retired or left practice, according to a survey by a health care staffing company.

The physician shortage itself has been well-documented, while the latest news and numbers contrasting the increasing demand by newly insured millions of people expected to seek service as a result of health care reform.

Add the demands of baby boomers into the mix--their volume as they enter into old age as well as their unique demands for health--and it's the perfect storm.

56% of doctors cited economic factors for retiring or leaving medicine in 2012, while 51% cited health reform. (The survey was conducted before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.)

Younger doctors also said they were considering leaving medicine this year. Of those who said they would leave the practice or are strongly considering so by the end of 2012, 55% were less than 55. Those doctors also reported that the cost of running a practice was too high and that they didn't want to practice medicine in the era of health reform.

Specialists showing the greatest propensity to leave the profession in the next decade, according to the survey:

--Oncologists and hematologists, 57%
--Otolaryngologists, 49%
--General surgeons, 49%
--Cardiologists, 45%
--Urologists, 42%

The survey was conducted online from April 19 to April 27 by e-mail with 2,218 respondents. The error range for this survey at the 95% confidence level is +/- 2.1%.