New York's Physician
Workforce is not as Diverse as its Population,
According to UAlbany Study
Some regions see decline in physician population despite overall growth in a report that tracks state's supply and distribution of doctors
Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 13, 2006) -- New York is faced with a significant lack of minority patient-care physicians, according to a recent study from The Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS) at University at Albany's School of Public Health. While underrepresented minorities (African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos and American Indians) accounted for about 30 percent of New York's population, only 10 percent of the state's active patient care physicians are themselves underrepresented minorities.
"Research indicates that minority communities are less healthy and are at greater risk for certain diseases and long-term problems," said Jean M. Moore, director of the Center. "Cultural differences between physicians and patients, such as language or diet, can often lead to improper treatment or reduced care. This creates barriers that prevent members of a minority community from receiving the best treatment possible."
The CHWS report, The Supply and Distribution of Physicians in New York, 2004, also found that while New York experienced overall growth in the supply of physicians from 2000 to 2004, the physician workforce declined in some regions of the state, with decreasing numbers of primary care physicians, obstetricians/gynecologists, general surgeons and psychiatrists in many upstate regions.
The overall supply of physicians in the state grew by 7 percent between 2000 and 2004, but the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions saw their physician workforce decline 6 percent and 10 percent, respectively, over the same time period, according to the report. Primary care physician supply also grew in some parts of the state, but not others. Western New York, the Finger Lakes, the North Country, and Southern Tier regions experienced declines in primary care doctors, ranging from zero growth in the Southern Tier to an 11 percent decline in the North Country.
"Our study reveals the sharp contrasts that exist in physician distribution. For example, in 2004, there were more than twice as many physicians per patient in New York City than in the Mohawk Valley," said Moore. "The findings highlight the changing distribution of physicians in New York and signal a potential need for incentives that encourage physicians to practice in some areas of the state to avoid possible shortages."
Data in the CHWS report also show that women comprised about 29 percent of the physician pool. In 2004, physicians in the state were predominantly male (71 percent). Women physicians were younger than men, reflecting the growing number of women entering the profession. The average age of female physicians was 42.8, versus 48.2 for male physicians.
"While we're making gains in terms of the number of women entering medicine, we haven't made much progress in increasing racial and ethnic diversity in medicine in New York," said Moore. "In 1998, 10 percent of physicians were underrepresented minorities, and in 2004, that figure was still only 10 percent, despite the increasing diversity of New York's population."
The study also noted the following:
- Despite overall growth in the state's
supply of physicians between 2000 and 2004,
the number of some physician specialties
did not increase. Physicians in general
surgery declined by 10 percent and the
supply of psychiatrists had no growth
over the same time period.
- The ratio of physicians to
patients was highest in New York City,
with 370 full-time equivalent (FTE) active,
patient care physicians per 100,000 population,
and lowest in the Mohawk Valley with
147 FTEs per 100,000 population.
- Nearly half the regions in the state experienced a decline in the supply of obstetricians/gynecologists (ob/gyns) between 2000 and 2004, despite growth of this workforce in the state overall. The decrease in ob/gyns ranged from an 11 percent decline in the Finger Lakes region to a 36 percent drop in the Mohawk Valley.
Copies of the full report may be downloaded from the Center's web site.
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. It is one of six regional centers
devoted to health workforce studies with
a cooperative agreement with U.S. Department
of Health's Health Resources and Services
Administration/Bureau of Health Professions.