Thursday, 13 Dec 2018

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Future Shortage of Rheumatologists in the USA

In Arthritis & Rheumatology, the American College of Rheumatology updates their projections for the rheumatology workforce between 2015 and 2030, noting that despite an aging population and an increase in the rheumatology fellowship positions, there will be a significant shortage of rheumatologists by 2030.

The 2015 US adult rheumatology workforce (physicians, NPs, and PAs) was estimated to be 6,013 providers (4997 rheumatologists). Currently the demand exceeded the supply of clinical providers by 700 (12.9%) and this imbalance is expected to grow to a deficit of 4,133 providers (102%) by 2030.  Most of this deficit relates to the large number of projected retirees wherein 4882 providers will drop to 4051 clinical FTE. (Citation source

In the same issue, a study of graduate medical education (GME) fellowship training programs disclosed that as of 2015, there were 113 adult rheumatology programs with 431 of 468 available positions filled. They estimated the number of fellows entering the workforce each year was 107; noting this number was impacted significantly by gender (rise in women from 41-57%) and generational trends (millenials will rise from 6-44%). Thus, the current GME training structure cannot support the increased demand and that strategies must be developed to address this gap. (Citation source: 

Lastly, there appears to be a signficiant geographic maldistribution of adult rheumatologists across the United States, and this will worsen in the coming years. For example, 21% of adult rheumatologists were in the Northeast in 2015, compared with only 3.9% in the Southwest. In 2015, the ratio of rheumatology providers per 100,000 patients by region ranged from 3.07 in the Northeast to 1.28 in the Southwest.






The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

Rheumatologists' Comments

I think there is no shortage of Rheumatologist at all, it is just a maldistribution, during the recession, no rheumatologist were able to find a job easily though before that similar hue and cry about shortage was raised. The projected shortage is always based upon the assumption that the rheumatologists will retire at 65-67, but I think only 1% or less of them retire at that age. This is all wrong and bad assumption and it can lead to tightening of job market for rheumatologist in the near future, There isn't and not going to be any shortage,
Im a bit shocked that you have this odd theory and view. In 2030 rheumatologists will be suffering under an unreasonable demand for diagnostic and treatment for services. This report was suppose to engender discussion, solutions and planning. Clearly you will not be part of the solution. You should study the situation, and if you are so convinced that there will be no shortage you should publish your results for others to see. Otherwise talk is cheap. Bone up dude! JJC

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