Monday, December 14, 2009

Workforce Issues and the Future of Pediatrics

The changing workforce in Pediatrics is reflected by the annual residency match data from the American Board of Pediatrics showing more women headed into pediatrics than ever before, and the fellowship data suggesting that there are specialties that would benefit from more pediatricians training to meet the needs of that specialty. Underlying these trends, and certainly associated with them, is an ever-increasing number of pediatricians deciding to work part-time rather than full time.

In an early release article by Cull et al (doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-0767), data from the AAP Periodic Survey of Fellows shows an almost 10% jump up over 7 years in the percentage of pediatricians working part time, up to an aggregate 23% in 2006. What is even more interesting is that part-time applies to both genders, pediatricians both under 40 and over 50 who are working in urban and suburban areas and who are both generalists and specialists. If you want to see how much less these part-time pediatricians are working and how happy they are with the quality of their professional and personal lives, you’ll find plenty to think about in this article whether you are planning for the future of your practice, your division, your department, or the overall future of pediatrics.

A companion article by Merline et al (doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-3090) focuses even more closely on pediatricians age 50 and over and how they are planning (or not planning) for a specific age of retirement. The ability to shift to part-time status seems to be a possible solution for extending the professional service time of this valued population of pediatricians. There’s lots to think about in both of these articles. Maybe making our journal a small part-time part of your day by choosing one or two articles to learn from may be better than a “full-time” one-time immersion in a monthly issue! I leave that for you to decide.