The OB/GYN shortage is here, hospitalist programs can help

Physician networking website Doximity has released an updated report on the looming national OB/GYN shortage.

Las Vegas sits at the top of the list as the city most at risk. While the number of U.S. medical students entering the obstetrics and gynecology specialty is decreasing, the birth rate is holding steady or increasing in some areas.

According to an NBC news article, one Las Vegas hospital has seen a 10 percent increase in births over the last two years.

Salt Lake City, Miami, Riverside, California and Los Angeles are also facing a future with too few obstetricians caring for pregnant women and delivering babies. 

What will the future look like?

ACOG estimates that there will be 8,000 fewer obstetricians than needed by next year. That number may rise to 22,000 by 2050.

According to the Doximity study, 35 percent of OB/GYNs are now 55 years old or older. In past years residents entering the field would backfill retired physicians’ positions, but the data showed that today only 19 percent of U.S. OB/GYNs are younger than 40 years old.

Currently each private-practice OB/GYN will deliver around 100 babies per year. Although the national birth rate has declined incrementally, the ratio of births to obstetricians will be strained in the near future. A smaller number of doctors covering the demand for obstetric services is expected to take a toll on both physician well-being and the quality of maternal care.

Patients will begin to experience longer office wait times, less face-to-face time with their OB/GYN and more difficulty scheduling appointments. And a growing number of pregnant women, especially those who live in rural areas, will be forced to travel long distances to see a physician.

Hospital administrators may struggle to recruit OB/GYNs and maintain a high level of care. And OB/GYNs, already in high-stress jobs, may experience burnout earlier in their careers and find it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

What can hospitals and physicians do?

Hospitalist programs, now the standard of care for birthing hospitals, can provide administrators and clinicians with greater peace of mind during this uncertain time in the industry.

OBHG currently employs more than 700 skilled OB/GYNs across the U.S. who manage triage and handle emergencies 24/7 year-round. Ongoing, required education and simulation training ensures quality, consistent care for all patients.

OB/GYNs begin their careers or transition into hospitalist medicine for a variety of reasons – while many are seeking relief from heavy administrative burdens and a more balanced lifestyle – including flexible scheduling and more uninterrupted time with family – others are attracted to the excitement and pace of hospitalist work, opportunities to design patient safety initiatives for their facilities, a highly collaborative work environment, or the chance to advance their careers and move into professional leadership roles.

Our programs reduce clinician burnout by lightening the load for hospitalists and community obstetricians both.

Learn more about launching a program at your facility or becoming an OBHG hospitalist.

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