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UAlbany Report: New York Facing Physician Shortage by 2030

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Greatest gaps in supply and demand are projected for New York City, Hudson Valley, according to Center for Health Workforce Studies

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

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Physicians

While no region of the state is immune to gaps, physician supply growth is projected to more closely parallel demand growth in the Capital District and Finger Lakes regions.

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 13, 2009) -- Growth in demand for physicians in New York will likely outpace growth in supply, leaving the state with a shortage by 2030, according to a new report by the University at Albany's Center for Health and Workforce Studies (CHWS). The report projects a shortfall of 2,500 to 17,000 physicians, or three to 15 percent, required to meet the anticipated demand for services.

"The forecasts show that the physician shortages and gaps in care that we are currently experiencing are likely to worsen over time," said CHWS researcher Gaetano Forte, co-author of the report. "Planners and policy makers need to consider strategies that attract and retain physicians in the state, as well as efforts that promote more efficient and effective use of limited physician resources."

The report, New York Physician Supply and Demand Through 2030, also finds the greatest gaps are projected in New York City and the Hudson Valley, where demand is forecasted to grow most rapidly. While no region of the state is immune to gaps, physician supply growth is projected to more closely parallel demand growth in the Capital District and Finger Lakes regions.

Additionally, while the number of physicians in New York is expected to grow overall, several specialties are projected to decline, including ophthalmology, pathology, psychiatry, urology and other surgical disciplines. Specialties such as general internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and otolaryngology are expected to grow for a period and then decline starting in 2020. Other areas are expected to grow through 2030 including anesthesiology, cardiovascular disease, emergency medicine, general pediatrics, orthopedic surgery, and radiology.

The report also finds:

  • Areas and populations that are currently underserved will continue to suffer and are likely to experience even greater physician shortages in the future.
  • Efforts to expand access to physician services by implementing universal health insurance programs will exacerbate projected supply and demand gaps.
  • The number of physicians in New York is expected to grow as long as the state continues to retain physicians who train in the state at the rate it currently does. If retention of physicians trained in the state were to decline below current levels, the overall number of physicians could begin to decline within a decade.
  • While most regions of the state are projected to experience growth in physician demand, Central New York and Mohawk Valley are expected to experience no significant change in demand through 2030. Western New York is projected to experience a decline in demand, while New York City is forecasted to experience the greatest growth in demand.
  • Physician demand is not projected to grow at the same rate across all specialties. The fastest growth in demand is expected in cardiovascular diseases, ophthalmology, and urology. Slower growth is forecast for emergency medicine, psychiatry, and family medicine. No growth is expected for obstetrics and gynecology and general pediatrics.

In forecasting physician supply and demand, CHWS considers many factors, such as size and characteristics of the current physician supply and new physicians entering the workforce, how physician services are used, location of services and who provides them, and characteristics of the population in that particular area. Other factors include potential medical advances, changes in health care delivery and health insurance coverage, physician practice and migration patterns.

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 understand workforce dynamics and trends. Goals include identifying future physician supply and demand imbalances and suggest strategies for reconciling them.

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