2016 Survey of Physicians 55 and Older

May 17, 2016

2016 Survey of Physicians coverThe 2016 Survey of Physicians 55 Years and Older is a thought leadership resource developed by AMN Healthcare’s temporary physician staffing service lines. This report includes an overview of the survey’s purpose, methodology, key findings, survey responses, as well as analysis of survey results.

Like the general population, physicians in the United States are aging. According to the American Medical Association’s Physician Master File, 42% of practicing physicians in the United States are 55 years old or older. This includes approximately 336,000 of some 800,000 physicians who currently are in active patient care. The number of physicians who are 55 or older varies by specialty (see chart below):

Percent of Physicians 55 or Older by Specialty

2016 Survey of Physicians

As the chart shows, there are various medical specialties in which 50% or more of physicians are 55 years old or older. It is physicians in these specialties, including orthopedic surgeons, cardiologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, oncologists and pulmonologists, who will be responsible for treating the aging and often ailing bodies and minds of the nation’s rapidly growing senior population.

In 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projected a shortage of up to 90,400 physicians by the year 2025. Of these, two-thirds are expected to be specialists who, the AAMC projects, will be in short supply given the strong demand for their services generated by the nation’s elderly. Many of these specialists themselves will be aging, while a significant percentage of primary care physicians such as family physicians and internal medicine physicians also will be 55 or older, as the numbers above indicate.

Because they constitute such a significant percentage of the overall physician workforce, it is instructive to know the career plans and perspectives of physicians in this age group.

What are their current work schedules? When do they plan to retire? Do they have a succession plan in place for when they leave medical practice? How does their level of career satisfaction now compare to when they first started practicing medicine, and how do they view the training and work ethic of younger physicians?