Study objective: We sought to identify longitudinal trends in workforce entry and attrition among rural and urban emergency physicians, nonemergency physicians, and advanced practice providers. Methods: We performed a repeated cross-sectional analysis, from 2013 to 2019, of emergency clinicians who received reimbursement for at least 50 Evaluation and Management services [99281-99285] from Medicare part B within any study year. We calculated the emergency workforce's entry and attrition rates annually. Entry was defined as clinicians newly entering or re-entering the workforce, and attrition was defined as clinicians leaving permanently or temporarily. We stratified the analyses by rural designation and assessed the proportions and state-level changes in clinician density. Results: In total, 82,499 unique clinicians performed at least 50 Evaluation and Management services within any of the 7 study years examined, including 47,000 emergency physicians, 9,029 nonemergency physicians, and 26,470 advanced practice providers. Emergency physicians made up a decreasing proportion of the workforce (68.1% in 2013; 65.5% in 2019), and advanced practice providers made up an increasing proportion of the workforce (20.9% in 2013; 26.1% in 2019). Annually, 5.9% to 6.8% (2,186 to 2,407) of emergency physicians newly entered and 0.8% to 1.4% (264 to 515) re-entered the workforce, whereas 3.8% to 4.9% (1,241 to 1,793) permanently left and 0.8% to 1.6% (276 to 521) temporarily left. Additionally, the total proportion of clinicians practicing in rural designations decreased, and advanced practice providers separately made up a substantially increasing proportion of the rural workforce (23.0% in 2013; 32.7% in 2019). Substantial state-level variation existed in the supply and demand of emergency clinician densities per 100,000 population. Conclusion: The annual rate of emergency physician attrition was collectively more than 5%, well above the 3% assumed in a recently publicized projection, suggesting a potential overestimation of the anticipated future clinician surplus. Notably, the attrition of emergency physicians has disproportionately affected vulnerable rural areas. This work can inform emergency medicine workforce decisions regarding residency training, advanced practice provider utilization, and clinician employment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine