Study Reveals Growing Threat of OB-GYN Shortages

The U.S. faces growing shortage in obstetricians and gynecologists (OB-GYN) due to a maturing workforce and coming retirement wave, according to a study just released by medical social network Doximity.

This report, “2018 OB-GYN Workforce Study,” examined significant factors impacting the specialty, including high maternity workloads that vary dramatically across major metro areas, an insufficient number of younger practicing OB-GYNs and private vs. government insurance coverage – to help assess whether compensation is keeping pace with growing workloads.

By cross-referencing these factors, Doximity researchers have developed a composite index score to identify the cities with the highest risk of OB-GYN shortages nationally.

Here are the top 10 MSAs most likely to suffer a shortage of OB-GYNs in coming years:

  1. Las Vegas
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Miami
  4. Orlando, Fla.
  5. Riverside, Calif.
  6. Detroit
  7. St. Louis
  8. Salt Lake City
  9. Sacramento, Calif.
  10. Tampa, Fla.

The study also found that the national average age of U.S. OB-GYNs is 51 years old. This is a critical point, as most OB-GYNs begin to retire at age 59, with the median retirement age being 64 years old, according to research by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). OB-GYNs tend to retire younger than most physicians due to the demanding nature of obstetrics.

Additional findings include:

A seven-fold variation in maternity workloads: Doximity compared the number of OB-GYNs with the number of live births in the top 50 MSAs.

  • The metros with the largest number of births per OB-GYN are: St Louis (247); Riverside, Calif. (237); Las Vegas(164); Phoenix (135) and Houston (135).
  • The metros with the smallest number of births per OB-GYN are: Ann Arbor, Mich. (32); New Haven, Conn. (52); Hartford, Conn. (53); Bridgeport, Conn. (54); and Louisville, Ky. (64)

The retirement wave of OB-GYNs is rising: In many areas, a large portion of the OB-GYN population is nearing the average age of retirement.

  • The metros with the highest percentage of OB-GYNs who are 55 years old and older are: Pittsburgh; Virginia Beach, Va.; Cincinnati; Salt Lake City; and Bridgeport, Conn.
  • The metros with the lowest percentage of OB-GYNs who are 55 years old and older are: Houston; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Charleston, S.C.

A shortage of younger doctors: Only 16 percent of all U.S. OB-GYNs are 40 years old or younger, while 36 percent are 55 years old or older.

  • The metros with the highest percentage of OB-GYNs who are 40 years old and younger are: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Houston; Minneapolis; Cincinnati; and Denver.
  • The metros with the lowest percentage of OB-GYNs who are 40 years old and younger are: Las Vegas; Bridgeport, Conn.; Detroit; St. Louis; and Hartford, Conn.
  • Correlations between sources of insurance and OB-GYN workloads: Around 50 percent of all births in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid programs.

The metros with the highest percentage of births financed through Medicaid are: Riverside, Calif.; Miami, Los Angeles; New Orleans; and Houston. The metros with the lowest percentage of births financed through Medicaid are: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Washington, D.C.; San Jose, Calif.; Minneapolis; and Salt Lake City.

To read the full report, visit doximity.com

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