INTRODUCTION: Expansion of medical school enrollment in the 1960s through 1980s has led to more baby boomer physicians reaching retirement age. The objectives were to determine the number of obstetrician-gynecologists nearing retirement age and how eventual retirement will affect the future supply of obstetrician-gynecologists.
METHODS: This descriptive study was based on data from the most recent 5 years (2008-2013) of the American Medical Association Masterfile. A comparison of the data with the National Provider Identifier was used to correct for the known upward bias in retirement ages using the American Medical Association Masterfile alone. Physicians were included only if they described their active practice as being in obstetrics-gynecology. The primary outcome was discrete retention curves, akin to Kaplan-Meier curves.
RESULTS: A decline in the number of obstetrics-gynecology practitioners began at 55 years old. The approximately 11,000 obstetrician-gynecologists nearing retirement (55-67 years old) is comparable to the number in residency and within 5 years of residency completion. Although those physicians nearing retirement were predominantly male, no differences in retirement curves were found between senior male and female obstetrician-gynecologists. The annual rate of retirement increased from 0.6% for 55 year olds to 4.3% for 65 year olds. Most retired by age 67 years. If all obstetrician-gynecologists retired 2 years later, an additional 900 health care practitioners would be available.
CONCLUSIONS: The large cohort of obstetrician-gynecologists approaching retirement bears tracking, because the supply of young physicians is not anticipated to increase. Extending time until retirement will aid in reducing a pending shortage of obstetrician-gynecologists.
(C) 2014 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.