Surge in Pediatricians Predicted in 20 Years

Number may increase by 58 percent, while number of kids will rise by 9 percent

MONDAY, March 8, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The number of pediatricians in the United States will increase by 58 percent over the next 20 years, while the number of children will increase by only 9.3 percent, a new study says.

"The results of this study give us a road map for the future of children's health care and the role the pediatrician will play in that care," principal investigator Dr. Scott A. Shipman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, says in a prepared statement.

"We need to act now so this increase in pediatricians can be leveraged to benefit our children, not harm our health-care system," Shipman says.

The study appears in the March issue of Pediatrics.

Shipman and his colleagues used the current number of working pediatricians in the United States and the child population in 2000 as a baseline. They then created a statistical model that included several factors that may influence the number of pediatricians in the future.

These factors include:

  • Current supply of pediatricians.
  • Age and gender of new pediatricians entering the workforce.
  • New pediatricians from other countries who trained in the United States.
  • The U.S. population.
  • Changing work styles -- full time versus part time.
  • Deaths of and retirement ages for pediatricians.
  • The number of children who may see a primary-care doctor other than a pediatrician.

The results predict that by 2020 there will be one pediatrician for every 1,400 children in the United States, compared to the current level of one pediatrician for every 2,040 children.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers parents information about children's health issues.

SOURCE: Oregon Health & Science University, news release, March 2004
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