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Little Growth in the Supply of Physicians in Upstate New York According to Center for Health Workforce Studies

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

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 28, 2008) -- Despite overall growth in the supply of physicians in New York between 2002 and 2006, many upstate regions saw no change in the number of physicians per 100,000 people, and two regions, Western New York and Mohawk Valley experienced declines in physician supply over that time period, according to a new study from University at Albany's Center for Health Workforce Studies.

The Annual New York Physician Workforce Profile found that the distribution of physicians in New York is changing, with fewer physicians in many upstate or rural areas. In urban counties, there were 318 full-time equivalent (FTE) physicians per capita in 2006, an increase of five percent from 2002. In rural counties, there were 175 FTE physicians per capita in 2006, a two percent increase from 2002.  Downstate New York had a higher ratio of FTE physicians per capita than upstate, 318 vs. 228.

"Our study found wide regional variation in the distribution of physicians. In 2006, there were nearly twice as many physicians per capita in New York City than in the Mohawk Valley," says Jean M. Moore, director of the Center. "The findings suggest that the current distribution of physicians in the state may pose serious challenges to patients seeking care in many upstate communities, particularly those in rural areas. This signals a potential need for incentives that encourage physicians to practice in some areas of the state to address possible shortages."

Key findings of the report include:
More than 19,000 physicians (30 percent of the total) reported a primary care specialty (family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics) as their principal specialty.

Between 2002 and 2006, the number of primary care FTE physicians per capita declined in the following regions: Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Western New York.

New York physicians were predominantly male (70 percent) in 2006.  However, women physicians were significantly younger than men, reflecting the growing number of women entering the profession. The average age of women in the physician workforce was 47.1 years compared to 52.8 years for men.

New York's physicians were not as diverse as the state's population in 2006. About 10 percent of physicians were underrepresented minorities (Blacks/African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos and American Indians), while underrepresented minorities accounted for approximately 35 percent of New York's population.

Thirty-six percent of active patient care physicians reported they were international medical graduates (IMGs), that is, attended medical school outside the United States or Canada. There were significant variations in the percentage of IMGs by specialty. For instance, 52 percent of pathologists reported being IMGs, compared to less than 10 percent of dermatologists.

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 better understand workforce dynamics and trends.

Through its partnership with the New York State Dept. of Health, UAlbany's School of Public Health offers students immediate access to internships at the Health Department, Albany Medical College, and variety of other public and private health institutions throughout New York. The school serves as the academic anchor of the East Campus, the biotech hub of the university's life sciences research, including the Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics. Students have unique access to study the most profound health issues facing us today: the threat of bioterrorism, the spread of HIV/AIDS and other emerging diseases, the lack of affordable and accessible health care for individuals and families, environmental hazards, substance abuse and social violence, maternal mortality in developing countries, the promises and threats of genetic engineering, and protecting food and water supplies.

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