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Number of Preventive Med Doctors Unlikely to Match U.S. Needs

FRIDAY, April 16, 2021 -- The number of physicians in preventive medicine is unlikely to match the population needs in the United States, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice.

Thomas C. Ricketts, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed the supply of preventive medicine physicians using data derived from board certification files of the American Board of Preventive Medicine and self-designation data from the American Medical Association Masterfile for 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The researchers observed an increase from 6,091 to 9,270 in the total number of board-certified physicians in preventive medicine from 1999 to 2018. Since 2000, there was a general decrease noted in the number of self-identified preventive medicine physicians, with a leveling off in the past four years, matching the trend of preventive medicine physicians per 100,000 population. A recent increase was seen in women in the specialty. For preventive medicine physicians, practice locations did not match the U.S. population in rural and micropolitan areas. The average age is increasing for preventive medicine physicians.

"Multiple threats to health in the United States caused by environmental conditions and the emergence of new diseases such as the COVID-19 virus are growing," the authors write. "Likewise, the need for well-trained preventive medicine physicians to confront these challenges grows apace."

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