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Are there enough doctors in the house?

by Heather Mayer, DOTmed News Reporter | September 10, 2010

Salsberg of AAMC recognizes that primary care recruitment is a public responsibility, and it’s important to encourage people to view medicine as a viable career.

Where nurses have a shortage across the board, for doctors, the issue is a little more focused.

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“It’s generally not an issue of recruiting students,” he says. “[We have to] issue strategies to recruit non-traditional students, that’s both diverse economically and ethnically.”

A surviving sector
Not currently faced with a significant job crunch is the radiology sector. A 2008 survey from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, found that recruiting for radiography, computed tomography (CT) and nuclear medicine technologists has become substantially less difficult. Employment for radiologic technologists and technicians is expected to grow faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Employment among this group is expected to increase by about 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to BLS. Growth can be attributed, in part, to an increased demand for diagnostic imaging.

While there isn’t a personnel shortage, radiography is still experiencing a shortage . . . of job openings. A 2010 ASRT survey published in August, found that there aren’t enough jobs for radiologic technologists, or radiographers. The numbers indicate that the vacancy rate in this field has been declining, and right now, sits at a low 2.1 percent. That means for every 100 budgeted full-time positions, an estimated 2.1 are unfilled, according to ASRT. The survey also showed that among those polled, 54.4 percent are not currently recruiting techs for their radiology departments.

BLS also predicts that while hospitals will remain the main employer of radiologic technologists, a number of new jobs will be available in physicians’ offices and diagnostic imaging centers.

And the workforce for radiation therapists — those who deliver radiation treatment to cancer patients — is expected to increase by 27 percent between 2008 and 2018, also due to an aging population. Rapid growth is expected across all practice settings, according to BLS.

When it comes to the radiologist workforce the supply and demand is stable, says Dr. C. Douglas Maynard, professor emeritus of radiology at Wake Forest University. Maynard has also been conducting an annual survey of the radiologist workforce for the past decade.

“The workforce tends to go up and down,” Maynard says. “It depends on what’s happening in the marketplace. In the late 90s [with managed care] there was basically a surplus of radiologists. Then there was a shortage of radiologists. Now, we have about an even balance.”