Nearly all pediatric ED physicians work in urban areas, study shows

Most areas in the U.S. don’t have access to pediatric emergency physicians, according to research published May 18 in JAMA Network Open.

Using a national physician database, researchers surveyed 2,403 pediatric emergency physicians who were clinically active in 2020. 

Findings showed 99 percent of pediatric EPs practiced in urban areas, and less than 1 percent of U.S. counties had four or more of the specialty physicians per 100,000 population. 

Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming had no pediatric EPs, while Alaska, New Mexico and North Dakota had the physicians in one county, according to the study. 

Those working in urban areas tended to be younger, with a median age of 46, while the median age of pediatric EPs in rural areas was 59. 

Pediatric EPs working in rural areas were also more likely to have completed their medical training 20 or more years ago, compared to those in urban areas. 

In rural areas, 48 percent of the physicians were board certified in pediatric emergency medicine, compared to 68 percent in urban areas. 

“Given that nearly all pediatric EPs reported working in urban areas and rural pediatric EPs were older, we anticipate a worsening shortage of pediatric EPs in already underserved regions of the country,” researchers said. “We encourage the use of new approaches, such as tele pediatrics, to improve access to high-quality pediatric emergency care in rural regions.” 

To view the full findings, click here.

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