According to a new study by Doximity, a wave of retirements over the next 10 years could mean a shortage of obstetricians and gynecologists, making it increasingly difficult for women to access essential reproductive health services.
The survey, which was conducted by a social network for physicians and advanced practice clinicians, ultimately found the average age of an OB/GYN to be 51, with the retirement age ranking closer to 59.
Of the 30,000 full-time, board-certified OB/GYNs interviewed in the survey, only 14 percent are 40 years old or younger, and 37 percent are 55 or older.
So, what does this mean for some American women? They could be left without a significant source of preventative care. That being said, a few states are now looking into proposals that will improve female healthcare in the long-term, though some experts warn “more dramatic changes” are needed in order to ensure medical needs are met.
One of the main concerns here comes from the prospect of a population increase. Over the next decade or so, the number of babies born in the United States is projected to grow sharply, which will translate into a greater demand for OB/GYNs — despite a prospective lack of resources.
As William Rayburn, a University of New Mexico professor of obstetrics and gynecology sees it: “It’s very simple. Our population is continuing to grow faster than we are producing ob-gyns,” he said in a recent interview with the Huffington Post.
Looking ahead, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is setting its sights on U.S. Congress.
The ACOG ultimately hopes to push for congressional measures that would financially incentivize medical school graduates to consider the OB/GYN career path. But that may not be sufficient.
At current count, the ACOG estimates the U.S. will have 6,000 to 8,800 fewer OB/GYNs than what is needed by 2020, with a possible shortage of 22,000 by the year 2050. Stick with South Avenue Women’s Services to learn more about this story as it unfolds.