Physician Shortage Likely to Impact OB/GYN Workforce in Coming Years

September 21, 2019

New research coming from Doximity is adding to the literature on the physician shortage's impact on maternity care, identifying which metropolitan areas are most likely to suffer from a shortage of obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) in coming years.

The growing physician shortage in the United States has spread its impact across multiple specialties, including maternity care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has projected that there will be a shortage of up to nearly 9000 obstetricians and gynecologist (OB/GYN) by 2020, which will grow to a shortage of up to 22,000 by 2050.

New research coming from Doximity is adding to the literature, identifying which metropolitan areas are most likely to suffer from a shortage of OB/GYNs in coming years.

“The ramifications of this shortage for women’s health extend far beyond childbirth,” stated the report. “While OB-GYNs are a primary source of care to women during pregnancy and delivery, they also provide a wide range of gynecologist care throughout women’s lives.”

Relying on CMS data, board certification data, and self-reported data, Doximity researchers obtained data on 43,000 full-time, board-certified OB/GYN practitioners. Stratifying practitioners based on where they practice, the researchers selected 50 metropolitan areas. From there, they identified the 10 metropolitan areas most likely to experience a shortage:

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Salk Lake City, Utah
  3. Miami, Florida
  4. Riverside, California
  5. Los Angeles, California
  6. Buffalo, New York
  7. Jacksonville, Florida
  8. Detroit, Michigan
  9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
  10. Dallas, Texas

The number of OB/GYNs is not the only concern; The researchers also highlighted the importance of the demographics of the practicing providers. The report found that nationally, 35% of OB/GYNs are 55 years and older and of the 50 evaluated areas, there are 33 in which at least one-third of practicing OB/GYNs are 55 years or older.

An aging workforce would not be of concern if there was a growing cohort of younger OB/GYNs occurring alongside it. However, less than 1 in 5 (19%) of the nation’s OB/GYNs are younger than 40 years old. Moreover, none of the 50 metropolitan areas studied have at least 30% of their OB/GYN workforce under the age of 40.

“The projected OB-GYN shortages across the nation pose serious concerns for women’s reproductive care,” Amit Phull, MD, vice president of Strategy and Insights at Doximity, said in a statement. “This is particularly concerning for millennials, who are already waiting longer to start a family due to a variety of economic and social factors.”

Phull added that the shortage is also particularly concerning for older women who are at greater risk of complications during pregnancy, which requires more visits with an OB/GYN.