Our population is growing at a faster rate than we are producing Obstetrician/Gynecologists (Ob/Gyns). According to the Journal of Women’s Health, by 2020, demand for gynecologist care is projected to increase by 6%, creating a shortage of 8,800 specialists in this field.
What are the key drivers of an increase in demand for Ob/Gyns?
Demand for Ob/Gyns is increasing as women are delaying childbirth. Pregnancies are generally declining among women in their 20s and rising among women in their 30s and 40s. The only women who are consistently having more babies than before are those over 40. While many women are delaying pregnancy till they’re of advanced maternal age (AMA), and delivering healthy babies, there is an associated risk due to declining fertility. As this trend for delayed childbearing continues, it has created a greater need for Ob/Gyns to assess risks and manage pregnancies for delivery.
However, providing services in this specialty area comes with attendant risk. Ob/Gyns are four times more likely to be sued than pediatricians or psychiatrists. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), 64% of Ob/Gyns have been sued at least once during their career. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), one in seven Ob/Gyn specialists has stopped delivering babies and, 20% of practicing professionals have cut back on high-risk obstetrics.
While the average Ob/Gyn compensation has increased, according to Salary.com, from $215,000 in 2014 to $280,000 in 2017, malpractice premiums are extremely high and not adjusted to the physician’s level of practice volume. Nearly 50% of Ob/Gyns have made changes to their practice driven by the availability and affordability of professional liability insurance.
However, according to ACOG, the looming shortage may be somewhat alleviated with Ob/Gyn having the second most first-year residency program applicants of any surgical specialty at 1,777. Even so, these residents will not be entering practice until at least 2020, and there is a strong need for experienced professionals, making the employment outlook in this challenging field extremely positive.