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UAlbany Center for Health Workforce Studies Finds Uneven Distribution of Physicians in New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 08, 2011) -- While the number of physicians continues to grow in New York State, a new report by the University at Albany's Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS) finds an uneven distribution of physicians, with fewer practicing in the Mohawk Valley and North Country compared to other regions of the state. CHWS is affiliated with UAlbany's School of Public Health.

Physician treating a patient

Patients desire quality health care, as shown above. However, the report found an uneven distribution of physicians across the state, with fewer practicing in the Mohawk Valley and North Country. 

Overall, New York enjoys a robust patient-care physician workforce, with close to 66,000 members now active. Moreover, its ranks continue to grow. Between 2005 and 2009, the number of active patient care physicians in the state rose by almost 5,000.

At the same time, however, New York's physicians are not evenly distributed. In particular, the Mohawk Valley and North Country have the lowest numbers of active patient care physicians per 100,000 population, according to the report, Annual New York Physician Workforce Profile 2010 Edition.

Mohawk Valley refers to Fulton, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, and Schoharie counties. North Country refers to Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties.

Gaetano J. Forte, CHWS director of information management who co-authored the report with research associate David P. Armstrong, said the two regions "have fewer than 200 physicians per 100,000 population compared to the overall state ratio of 341 per 100,000. Further, rural areas in New York have physician workforces per 100,000 less than half as populous as those in urban areas — 184 physicians per 100,000 compared to 371 physicians per 100,000 population in urban areas."

Even in regions like New York City, where there is an abundance of physicians (393 per 100,000 population), pockets of shortages exist, especially in terms of primary care physicians.  A total of 3.6 million people live in 53 areas within New York currently designated by the federal government as having a primary care health professional shortage. CHWS uses data presented in aggregate in the profile to help areas apply for these kinds of designations.

The profile also presents data to policymakers, health care providers, educators, and others who can use the information to shape policies aimed at ensuring an adequate supply of physicians for their areas.