Demand for Rheumatologists Exceeds Supply

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By 2030, excess demand expected to be 138% more than supply
By 2030, excess demand expected to be 138% more than supply

(HealthDay News) — The current demand for rheumatologists exceeds supply, and this situation is projected to worsen by 2030, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, held from Nov. 12 to 16 in Washington, D.C.

Marcy B. Bolster, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues projected the future supply of adult rheumatologists based on the current workforce, fellow graduation rates, succession planning, workload, practice settings, and generational changes.

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The researchers found that the current supply of rheumatologists is 4,497 full time equivalent (FTE), but is expected to decrease by 31 percent to 3,455 by 2030. The current demand is 5,615 FTE, which exceeds supply by 36 percent. By 2030, demand is expected to exceed supply by 138 percent. If all 113 adult rheumatology programs with 431 available positions fill, 215 fellows are expected to graduate each year. The average number of clinical FTE of adult fellows projected to enter the workforce annually is fewer than 215. About 50 percent of the rheumatology workforce is projected to retire over the next 15 years, and more than 80 percent of those retiring are intending to start reducing their patient load in the short term.

"The projected deficit of adult rheumatologists in the next 10 to 15 years exceeds the shortage predicted in the prior 2005 ACR Workforce Study," Bolster said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, and Amgen.

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