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Frequently Asked Questions

Pediatric Workforce
What Is a Pediatrician?  
The Divisions of Workforce and Medical Education Policy and S​tate Government Affairs have recently received a number of requests from members for an official AAP definition of the term "pediatrician." These requests stem from new legislation that requires a determination of which physicians do and do not fall into that category.
For example, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act includes Medicaid incentive payments for electronic health record (EHR) adoption, with specific Medicaid patient caseload threshold requirements for "pediatricians." In this instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has determined that "pediatrician" can be defined by each state Medicaid program for purposes of these payments. Additionally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) includes a Medicaid payment increase in 2013-2014 for certain Evaluation & Management (E&M) and immunization administration primary care services, but these increases will only be available to physicians with the "primary specialty designation of family medicine, general internal medicine, or pediatric medicine."
In order to meet the needs of these legislative initiatives, the AAP has developed its own official definition of "pediatrician" and "pediatrics," which includes pediatric medical subspecialists and surgical specialists and an important reference to the medical home.
How many pediatricians are there in the United States?
According to the latest American Medical Association Masterfile data (2011), there were 91,915 physicians in the US who identified themselves as a pediatrician, pediatric medical subspecialist, pediatric surgical specialist, or other pediatric-focused physician.  This includes 58,726 general pediatricians and 4,703 physicians who were trained jointly in internal medicine-pediatrics. Finally, there were 28,374 pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric surgical specialists, and other pediatric specialists. (Smart DR, ed. Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the US, 2013 Edition. Chicago, IL: American Medical Association, 2013.)

Is there a pediatrician shortage?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concludes that there is currently a shortage of pediatric medical subspecialists in many fields, as well as a shortage of pediatric surgical specialists. In addition, the AAP believes that the current distribution of primary care pediatricians is inadequate to meet the needs of children living in rural and other underserved areas, and more primary care pediatricians will be needed in the future because of the increasing number of children who have significant chronic health problems, changes in physician work hours, and implementation of current health reform efforts that seek to improve access to comprehensive patient- and family-centered care for all children in a medical home.

The AAP is committed to being an active participant in physician workforce policy development with both professional organizations and governmental bodies to ensure a pediatric perspective on health care workforce issues. Read “The Pediatrician Workforce Policy Statement” for additional information.

Where can I find additional information on the number of pediatricians in pediatric subspecialties?
The above-referenced book provides information on the number of physicians in pediatric subspecialties using data from the American Medical Association Masterfile. In addition, pediatric specialty associations may be able to provide you with specialty specific statistics.  In support of Section 5203 of the Affordable Care Act, the AAP Department of Federal Affairs and the Division of Workforce and Medical Education Policy prepared this fact sheet about the pediatric subspecialty and surgical specialty workforce.

What is the gender mix of pediatricians?
According to the American Medical Association Masterfile (2011 data), there were 78,766 general pediatricians, of whom 33,617 (42.7%) were male and 45,149 (57.3%) who were female.  The AAP Survey of Fellows (2011-2012) similarly reports that 42.5% of post-residency AAP members were male, while 57.5% were female.  For pediatric residents, the proportion of women is even higher, with women comprising 67.5% of AAP resident members, and men 32.5%. (AAP Survey of Fellows 78, 79, 80, and 81)

How many children are there in the United States?  
The U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Census reports that there were 74,181,467 children between the ages of 0 and 17 in the United States, which makes up 24% of the US population. (U.S. Bureau of the Census. Table 1. Population by Sex and Selected Age Groups: 2000 and 2010)

What is the ideal pediatrician-to-population ratio?
As the circumstances of each local health market vary widely, there is no ideal ratio. Many factors dictate the appropriate ratio between physicians and patients, including the number of insured and uninsured patients in the market, referral patterns, commuting patterns for subspecialty care, disease burden of the community, the presence of an academic medical center, and overall number of physicians.

How much do pediatricians earn? 
Medscape's 2013 Pediatrician Compensation Report, which is based on 2012 data, reports a median pediatrician compensation of $173,000, with an average compensation of $190,000 for men and $156,000 for women. However, reported salaries vary considerably by geographic location, practice arrangement, career stage, gender, hours worked, and a variety of other factors. Compensation was highest in group practices and in the Great Lakes region. (Medscape. Physician Compensation Report 2013. Accessed July 2013.)

What are some of the other practice characteristics of pediatricians?
The AAP Survey of Fellows (2011-2012) demonstrates that over one third of AAP Fellows are age 40 or younger, nearly one quarter are practicing part-time, about half of AAP members practice in a group practice and serve in urban settings. AAP Survey of Fellows 78, 79, 80, 81.

Where can I find information and resources for physicians wishing to reenter the workforce?
Physician reentry into the workforce has been defined as returning to professional activity/clinical practice for which one has been trained, certified or licensed after an extended period.  The Physician Reentry into the Workforce Project provides resources and information for physicians, organizations, and employers seeking information regarding physician reentry issues. The Reentry Project is a collaborative endeavor that examines the diverse issues encompassed under the rubric of reentry. It creates guidelines, recommendations, and strategies that serve physicians, employers, and organizations. The AAP has both supported and funded The Physician Reentry into the Workforce Project since its inception in 2005.  More information can be found here.   

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