A new report, Physician Workforce in Nevada – Current Characteristics and Distribution, provides the most current data on the geographic and specialty distribution of the allopathic physician workforce (MDs) in Nevada.
Utilizing data collected by the American Medical Association’s Physician Masterfile, the 2009 edition of this report released by the University of Nevada School of Medicine's Office of Education and Health Services Outreach, provides a comprehensive portrait of the physician workforce in Nevada and changes in the composition of the workforce over the past decade.
In 2007, the most current year of data, there were 5,591 licensed physicians in Nevada. This figure includes 4,796 (85.8 percent) physicians with an active license to practice in Nevada and 795 physicians (14.2 percent) with an inactive license. Over the past decade, there has been steady growth in the state’s physician workforce – the total physician population in Nevada increased by 2,405 or 75.5 percent between 1997 and 2007. Since 1997, the number of actively licensed physicians increased by 1,959 or 69 percent and the number of inactively licensed physicians increased by 446 or 127.8 percent.
Similarly, the number of physicians per 100,000 residents has increased from 191 physicians per 100,000 population in 1997 to 218 physicians per 100,000 population in 2007. Modest increases in the number of graduates from the University of Nevada School of Medicine in the past five years and the fact that a majority of physicians completing School of Medicine residency and fellowship programs remain in Nevada to practice medicine have contributed to the increase in the number of licensed physicians in Nevada over the past decade. A large proportion of the increase has been due to the successful ability of communities, existing medical practices and health facilities to recruit and retain physicians from other states and countries.
While the number of licensed physicians in the state has grown over the past decade, several trends revealed in the report continue to present enduring problems for health care access, costs, and quality in Nevada:
- Nevada continues to have an extremely low number of physicians per capita versus other U.S. states, particularly when compared to neighboring states in the western region of the U.S. also experiencing physician shortages – Nevada currently ranks 48th among U.S. states in the number of physicians per capita, a ranking that has not changed appreciably since 1990.
- When compared with other states in the west, Nevada possesses shortages of physicians for most medical and surgical specialties – of 39 specialty areas tracked by the AMA, only five specialty areas possess higher numbers of licensed MDs per capita than other states in the region (cardiovascular disease, internal medicine, thoracic surgery, anesthesiology, forensic medicine) – and across most specialty areas the number of MDs per capita in Nevada is 50 to 80 percent of national per capita ratios.
- Like many states, Nevada’s physician workforce is characterized by declining percentages of physicians providing patient care (versus employment in administration, research, and other non-patient care activities) and declining percentages of physicians in primary care versus medical and surgical specialties.
- The physician workforce is characterized by the persistence of serious disparities across regions of Nevada – in general, the number of physicians per capita is lower in rural areas than urban areas of the state, and the number of physicians per capita is lower in urban areas of southern Nevada versus urban areas of northwestern Nevada.