Half of Ventura County Physicians Approaching Retirement, Experts Say
Of the more than 750 physicians in the Ventura County Medical Association, about half willÂ be at least 55-years-oldÂ before the end of the year, according to estimates from VCMA, the Ventura County Star reports. VCMA also predicts that one in three medical association members will be at least 60-years-old by the end of the year.
Some physicians say the VCMA data could reflect the demographics of the medical association's membership or medical school and residency requirements that prevent most physicians from practicing on their own before age 30. In addition, some say the statistics could be skewed by licensed doctors who no longer practice medicine.
State Trend, Concerns
Statewide, a forthcoming study from the California HealthCare Foundation suggests that 29% of California's physicians are age 60 or older, the highest rate in the country. CHCF is the publisher of California Healthline.
The trend is sparking concern among some experts because it suggests that the number of doctors will decline at the same time that hospitals and clinics will start to see higher patient loads resulting from an aging baby boomer population and newly insured residents under the health reform law.
Nurse Population Also Aging
According to the California Board of Registered Nursing, half of the registered nurses in Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties were age 50 or older in 2008.
The board found that around 18% of nurses were in their 60s, a higher percentage than those who were age 34 and younger.
Joanne Spetz, a researcher at the Center for Health Professions at UC-San Francisco, said state-supported efforts to expand nursing programs could help stave off a nursing shortage in coming years. She also said an increase in immigrant health workers could help reduce a potential shortage of health care professionals.
The federal health reform law also contains provisions designed to increase the number of primary care physicians in the U.S. (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 7/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.