Pediatric Specialist Physician Shortages Affect Access to Care

September 18, 2012

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In May of this year, the Children's Hospital Association conducted a survey of children's hospitals to quantify the problem of shortages in pediatric specialists and children's access to timely care. The results, reported as area of shortage, burden on children and families, and barriers to recruitment, are based on responses from 69 children's hospitals. The study found that due to a dearth of specialty providers, the average wait time for appointments with developmental pediatricians is 14.5 weeks. It can take up to 10.8 weeks to get an appointment with a geneticist, and 8.9 weeks to see a neurologist. Fewer physicians pursue pediatric specialties because of the cost and longer training time involved in caring for children and the noncompetitive salaries. Children's hospitals that are trying to recruit new specialty providers encounter multiple difficulties. These include increased recruiting costs and loss of patients who are opting to see adult providers rather than wait for pediatric specialists.