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America’s physicians are getting older, osteopathic, and online, according to Federation of State Medical Boards

Article

FSMB’s latest census shows women are also a larger part of the physician workforce.

group of doctors in clinic: © Vasyl - stock.adobe.com

© Vasyl - stock.adobe.com

America’s population of physicians is getting older, osteopathic, and online, with more women practicing medicine now than in 2010.

There are 1,044,734 licensed physicians in the United States, making the physician workforce 23% larger than in 2010, according to the new “Census of Licensed Physicians in the United States, 2022.” The tally started in 2010 and is published every two years with data compiled by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which outlines trends in the physician workforce.

“The data in the 2022 census illustrates how dramatically the physician population has grown and diversified since 2010,” FSMB President and CEO Humayun Chaudhry, DO, MACP, said in a news release. “The FSMB census continues to be an important tool in helping medical regulators and health care policymakers stay informed of physician workforce trends as they consider ways to encourage public safety and physician wellness.”

With the nation’s population at about 333 million people, there is a physician-to-population ratio of 313 licensed physicians per 100,000 people, according to FSMB.

“The wealth of data that this census provides can play a significant role in understanding the needs of our health care workforce and help to identify areas in which we can innovate and expand access to care,” FSMB Board Chair Jeffrey Carter, MD, said in the news release.

Getting older

Among the findings, America’s general population is getting older and physicians are no different. The number of licensed physicians aged 60 years and older increased by 54% since 2010.

Osteopathic medicine

The number of licensed physicians with doctor of osteopathic medicine degrees continues to grow at a faster pace than licensed physicians with doctor of allopathic medicine degrees. Between 2010 and 2022, the number of licensed DO physicians increased by 89%, compared with an 18% increase for MDs, according to FSMB.

The trend matches that identified in last year’s “Osteopathic Medical Profession Report” by the American Osteopathic Association, which tracked growth from 47,197 DO physicians nationwide in 2000, to 141,759 in 2022. As of last year, that amounted to more than 11% of all physicians in the nation.

Going online

FSMB said since 2020, there have been significant increases in the number of new licenses issued by state medical boards. That trend is “driven by increased utilization of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) and the use of telehealth services at levels significantly higher than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The compact “to significantly streamline the licensing process for physicians who want to practice in multiple states” went into effect in 2017 and now includes 37 states, the District of Columbia and Guam.

Women in the workforce

“The number of licensed female physicians continues to increase,” according to FSMB.

In 2022, 37% of the physician workforce were women, up from 30% in 2010. Since that year, the licensed female physician population has increased by 54%, while male physicians have increased by 11%, according to the FSMB figures.

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