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C. C. Nwanze, R. A. Adelman; Use of a Help-Wanted Index to Assess Demand for Ophthalmologists. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):2409.
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To develop a help-wanted index (HWI) to measure trends in marketplace demand for ophthalmologists, then to identify the economic drivers of these trends and the responsiveness of the ophthalmology community to marketplace demand.
Retrospective review of physician recruitment advertisements appearing in the following journals: Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology and Archives of Ophthalmology from January 1980 through June 2006.
Over the 26 year study period a consistent increase in the demand for academic ophthalmologists was noted (34% of HWI in 1980 to 74% in 2005). There was also a consistent increase in the demand for specialists (31% of HWI in 1980 to 80% in 2005), especially demand for retina specialists. There were no consistent geographical trends in demand. Need for academic ophthalmologists seems to be correlated with national research expenditure and stock market gains (p = 0.00191), while demand for private practice ophthalmologists seems to be correlated with the national economic wellbeing, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (p<0.001). Further analysis indicated that training programs (p = 0.0456), residency applicants (p = 0.0128) and fellowship applicants (p = 0.0198) respond to marketplace demand. Furthermore salaries of academic ophthalmologists (p = 0.0226), and retina specialists (p = 0.0418) are statistically influenced by marketplace demand.
Long run trends in the HWI data suggest a chronic scarcity of academic ophthalmologists, and the emergence of need for a more specialized workforce, which may lead to increased competition for fellowship positions. This study suggests that the ophthalmology community is quick to respond to marketplace demand. Since HWIs are useful tools for assessing the marketplace need for ophthalmologists, an ongoing HWI will provide timely information about the demand for physicians in a rapidly changing health care system.
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