The goals of this study were to determine the current and projected supply in 2030 of contributors to emergency care, including emergency residency-trained and board-certified physicians, other physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. In addition, this study was designed to determine the current and projected demand for residency-trained, board-certified emergency physicians.
To forecast future workforce supply and demand, sources of existing data were used, assumptions based on past and potential future trends were determined, and a sensitivity analysis was conducted to determine how the final forecast would be subject to variance in the baseline inputs and assumptions. Methods included: (1) estimates of the baseline workforce supply of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants; (2) estimates of future changes in the raw numbers of persons entering and leaving that workforce; (3) estimates of the productivity of the workforce; and (4) estimates of the demand for emergency care services. The methodology assumes supply equals demand in the base year and estimates the change between the base year and 2030; it then compares supply and demand in 2030 under different scenarios.
The task force consensus was that the most likely future scenario is described by: 2% annual graduate medical education growth, 3% annual emergency physician attrition, 20% encounters seen by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, and 11% increase in emergency department visits relative to 2018. This scenario would result in a surplus of 7,845 emergency physicians in 2030.
The specialty of emergency medicine is facing the likely oversupply of emergency physicians in 2030. The factors leading to this include the increasing supply of and changing demand for emergency physicians. An organized, collective approach to a balanced workforce by the specialty of emergency medicine is imperative.