New Study Reveals Growing Threat of OB-GYN Shortages

National Research for 2018 Details Escalating Maternity Workloads and Coming OB-GYN Retirement Wave Across Major U.S. Cities

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., June 27, 2018 -- Doximity, the leading medical social network, today released new research detailing a concerning trend for women’s healthcare in the United States. The study examines the growing shortage in obstetricians and gynecologists (OB-GYN) due to a maturing workforce and coming retirement wave. The analysis was conducted with data from the Doximity network, which has over 70 percent of all U.S. physicians as members, including 43,000 full-time, board-certified OB-GYNs.

The 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.

The following 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.

“Experts agree that we’re facing a national physician shortage in the years to come. OB-GYNs are one of the top specialties at risk and are central to women’s health care in the U.S. The emergence of a significant shortage in this specialty could be terribly problematic from a women’s health standpoint,” said Amit Phull, M.D. Vice President of Strategy and Insights at Doximity.

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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

“Doximity’s data set continues to help provide a unique perspective into important issues that impact the medical profession. The OB-GYN specialty, in particular, is critical to women’s health care, and we hope these insights will help inform key stakeholders in developing solutions at both the local and national levels,” said Chris Whaley, Ph.D., lead author and adjunct assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.

To read the full report, please visit 2018 OB-GYN Workforce Study.

Methodology

Doximity’s study is drawn from CMS data, board certification data and self-reported data on approximately 43,000 full-time, board-certified OB-GYN practitioners. To avoid including retired OB-GYNs, physicians older than 70 were removed from the data set.

Responses were mapped across MSAs, and the top 50 MSAs were selected by population according to 2010 Census data. Population growth data is based on comparisons with Census 2016 population estimates.

The number of births in each metropolitan area comes from the 2015 National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database. Data on the Medicaid, uninsured and privately insured population comes from the American Community Survey (ACS). For each MSA, we limited the population to women aged 15-45. We calculated the Medicaid and uninsured rate as the number of women ages 15-45 either enrolled in Medicaid or uninsured relative to the number of women ages 15-45 with private insurance.

About Doximity

Founded in 2010, Doximity is the leading digital platform for medical professionals. The company’s network members include over 70% of U.S. physicians across all specialties and practice areas. Doximity provides its verified clinical membership with digital tools built for medicine, enabling them to collaborate with colleagues, stay up to date with the latest medical news and research, manage their careers and conduct virtual patient visits. Doximity’s mission is to help doctors be more productive so they can provide better healthcare for their patients. For more information, please visit www.doximity.com.

Doximity Media Contact

Jim Rivas
pr@doximity.com