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September 4, 1996

Changes in Marketplace Demand for PhysiciansA Study of Medical Journal Recruitment Advertisements

Author Affiliations

From the Center for Medical Education Research, Department of Medical Education, University of Washington, Seattle, and Center for the Health Professions, University of California, San Francisco (Dr Seifer); SHARP Grossmont Family Medicine Residency Program, La Mesa, Calif (Dr Troupin); and the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle (Dr Rubenfeld).

JAMA. 1996;276(9):695-699. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540090041009

Objective.  —To measure trends in marketplace demand for physicians in different specialties.

Methods.  —Retrospective review of physician recruitment advertisements appearing in the September issues of 7 medical journals in 1984,1987,1990,1993, and 1995.

Main Outcome Measure.  —Number of advertised positions in each of the studied specialties.

Results.  —Steep declines in the number of advertised positions for specialist physicians over the past 5 years were consistently observed with the exception of pediatric specialists. The most dramatic changes occurred in the number of internal medicine specialist positions, which declined by 75% since 1990. For physicians as a whole, there were 4 specialist positions for every generalist position advertised in 1990; by 1995, this ratio dropped to 1.8. Family medicine exhibited continuous growth in the number of advertised positions, more than doubling during the period studied.

Conclusions.  —Our data suggest a recent decline in marketplace demand for physicians, particularly those in specialist fields. Among generalists, demand for internists and pediatricians appears to be flat or declining, while demand for family physicians is rising. Ongoing analysis of these advertisements will provide timely information about the demand for physicians in a rapidly changing health care system.