What Will the Physician Workforce Look Like in 2030?

In a session at the 4th Annual Becker’s Hospital Review Meeting on May 11 in Chicago, Lori Schutte, MBA, president of Cejka Search, discussed the evolving healthcare landscape and shared her predictions on what the physician workforce might look like in 2030.

Ms. Schutte began by sharing some statistics on the growing need for additional physicians. In 1990, 64 individuals enrolled in medical or osteopathic school per million people. In 2010, that number was 31 per million.

At the same time, the need for physicians is expected to increase. There are currently 31 million people over 65, which will rise to 71 million by 2030.

Ms. Schutte then shared the results of a Cejka Search survey from September that examined a number of issues impacting the physician workforce. Of the 2,600 respondents, 50.6 percent reported that they expect fewer than 10 percent of physicians will be in independent practice in 2030.

"I think we’re going to see more physicians in an employed setting," she said. "I think they're increasingly going to be part of care team…and I think technology is going to play an increasingly bigger role in their lives."

More women are also expected to enter the physician workforce, which will impact staffing, as women are more likely to request part-time or flex schedules. As of 2010, 43 percent of physicians were women. In 2030, 43.7 percent of the survey respondents reported expecting women will account for 50 percent of physicians.

These changes in the make up of the physician workforce will impact hospitals and health systems moving forward. Physicians will be in high demand — a shortage of 150,000 physicians is expected by 2015, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges — and health systems should be aware of these workforce issues in order to best plan for future physician recruitment and retention.

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