FRIDAY, June 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A growing shortage of
endocrinologists in the United States means that patients may have
to wait longer to see one of these specialists, a new study
Endocrinologists treat conditions related to hormones, including
diabetes, thyroid disorders, obesity, osteoporosis and adrenal
Currently, there is a shortage of about 1,500 endocrinologists
who treat adults and 100 endocrinologists who treat children. The
demand for endocrinologists who treat children is expected to be
met by 2016, but the shortage of endocrinologists for adults is
expected to remain the same or become worse.
As the U.S. population ages, the number of older people who
develop diabetes or other endocrine disorders is likely to climb,
while a large number of current endocrinologists are expected to
retire, according to the study released online June 18 in the
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
"There already is a significant shortage of adult
endocrinologists. Without a concerted effort to recruit more
endocrinologists, the gap between the number of endocrinologists
and the demand for their care will increase even further and
patients will struggle to get the care they need," Dr. Robert
Vigersky, past president of the Endocrine Society and one of the
study's authors, said in a journal news release.
"The analysis found the number of new entrants to the workforce
must grow at a rate of 14 percent a year to close the gap in five
years," he said.
Income is one reason for the endocrinologist shortage, according
to the study. Endocrinologists tend to earn less than specialists
in fields such as gastroenterology and noninvasive cardiology.
"Improved reimbursement rates that reflect the true value of
endocrinologists' care are required to encourage more physicians to
choose endocrinology as a specialty," noted Vigersky.
In 2012, the average wait time for adults who made a non-urgent
appointment with an endocrinologist was 37 days. That wait time was
the same as in 1999, despite a 52 percent increase in the number of
endocrinologists who treat adults.
That may be because the newer generation of endocrinologists
work fewer hours and see fewer patients than their predecessors,
the study authors suggested in the news release.
"Like professionals in other industries, endocrinologists are
seeking work-life balance," Vigersky said. "This trend means even
more trained endocrinologists are required to serve the growing
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about