New Physicians in High Demand

April 14, 2008

There is growing concern about an emerging shortage of physicians nationwide. New physicians, particularly those who train in the state, are an important source of New York doctors.

The job market for new physicians in New York is characterized by strong demand, according to a recent study from the Center for Health Workforce Studies at University at Albany's School of Public Health. Unlike previous years, the need for primary care physicians was comparable to demand for specialists, with new primary care physicians reporting an increasing number of job offers and increasing median starting income. (See MDNG’s April 2007 cover story, “The Incredible Shrinking PCP” for more on this.)

The Center’s annual report, Residency Training Outcomes by Specialty in 2007 for New York: A Summary of Responses to the 2007 New York Resident Exit Survey, found that demand for new physicians was strongest in specialties that included dermatology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, and cardiology. Demand was weakest for new physicians in ophthalmology, general pediatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and pathology.

Data from the Center report also shows that nearly half of survey respondents with confirmed practice plans were staying in New York, although there was wide variation by specialty. In-state retention was highest for otolaryngologists, (84 percent), adult psychiatrists (76 percent), and physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians (75 percent). The lowest in-state retention rates were for general surgeons (zero percent), orthopedists, (15 percent), and pulmonologists (26 percent). The retention rate is also affecting nurses; read more at Marijke Vroomen-Durning’s blog, “Are We Partly to Blame for the Nursing Shortage?

Respondents planning to practice outside of New York were asked their reasons for leaving the state. The most commonly cited reasons were proximity to family (26 percent) and inadequate salary (21 percent). Thirteen percent (13 percent) of respondents indicated that they never intended to practice in New York.

“There is growing concern about an emerging shortage of physicians nationwide,” said Jean M. Moore, director of the Center. “New physicians, particularly those who train in the state, are an important source of New York doctors. It is critical to understand why new physicians are leaving the state and use this information to develop strategies that will retain the ones we need.”

The study also noted the following:

  • The median starting income for new physicians grew by 13 percent from 2005 to 2007.
  • Individual specialties with the highest median starting income were orthopedics ($259,700), radiology ($257,000), anesthesiology-general ($242,100), and cardiology ($241,900).
  • Median starting income was lowest for primary care physicians ($142,100), and starting income for physicians in pediatrics was significantly lower than all other primary care specialties ($110,650).
  • Forty-five percent of survey respondents were female, up slightly from 2005 (42 percent).
  • Twelve percent of survey respondents were underrepresented minorities, down slightly from 2005.

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 health workforce dynamics and trends. For more information and to access the entire report, visit: http://chws.albany.edu.