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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Health Workforce

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Projecting the Supply of Non-Primary Care Specialty and Subspecialty Clinicians: 2010-2025

Anticipated changes in the national supply of physicians, advanced practice nurses and physician assistants in 35 predefined non-primary care specialty and subspecialty fields are presented in this brief. Using the Clinician Specialty Supply Model, future labor supply changes attributable to the changing demographic composition of the future workforce are projected. All supply projections represent provider Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) active in patient care.

Key Findings

Increased physician supply across non-primary care fields of practice is projected for 2025, although there is substantial variation across fields.

  • The supply of physician FTEs in all non-primary care fields is expected to grow overall by 21 percent between 2010 and 2025.
  • Large growth is projected in some fields (physical medicine and rehabilitation, emergency medicine) while losses are projected in a few others (critical care medicine, occupational medicine, thoracic surgery).
  • The per capita supply of physicians is projected to vary. Per capita declines are projected in the fields of cardiology, psychiatry and general surgery; whereas per capita growth is projected within the pediatric subspecialties and in obstetrics-gynecology.

The supply of non-primary care advanced practice nurses is expected to grow more rapidly than physicians.

  • Between 2010 and 2025, the supply of non-primary care advanced practice nurse FTEs is expected to grow by 141 percent overall, with growth anticipated in every field where these providers are represented. Changes in the non-primary care APN supply somewhat mirror those of physicians, with the greatest growth expected in the fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and emergency medicine.
  • The per capita supply of advanced practice nurses is projected to increase across all non-primary care specialties with the greatest increases expected in obstetrics-gynecology and pediatric subspecialties.
  • Because of the data sources used, the number of advanced practice nurses working in 5 of 11 surgical specialties (colorectal surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, vascular surgery), and in three other fields of practice (pathology, preventive medicine and radiation oncology) are unobtainable.

The supply of non-primary care physician assistants is also projected to grow more rapidly than physicians, but less than advanced practice nurses.

  • The supply of non-primary care physician assistants is projected to more than double by 2025, with high rates of growth anticipated in almost all fields of (non-primary care) practice. The anticipated changes in the supply of physician assistants by field parallels the changes seen with physicians, with particularly high levels of growth projected in the fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation, emergency medicine, and pediatric subspecialties.
  • The per capita supply of physician assistants is projected to increase across all fields examined, with obstetrics-gynecology and the pediatric subspecialties expected to have the greatest increases.
  • Because of the data sources used the number of physician assistants specializing in preventive medicine are unobtainable.