Emergency care system at risk of work force woes

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 4, 2006

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A maldistribution of emergency physicians combined with a shortage of registered nurses and a high turnover of emergency medicine technicians is putting U.S. emergency care systems at risk of critical staffing shortages, according to a new report from the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the State University of New York at Albany.

Using a compilation of original research by the Center for Health Workforce Studies and studies in the public domain, researchers concluded that although the number of emergency doctors has grown faster than the number of physicians overall, at least one study suggests this growth won't keep pace with the growing population.

The distribution of emergency physicians, too, is an issue, the report found. A snapshot of New York and New Mexico indicated that many physicians in rural emergency departments are not board certified in emergency medicine. Also, 20% of emergency physicians work as independent contractors, compared with 4% of physicians in general. Rural areas rely heavily on these locum tenens, an indication that it is difficult to recruit physicians to rural hospitals as full-time staff.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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