female obgyn consulting a smiling pregnant woman touching her belly
Specialty Spotlights March 15, 2016

How the OB/GYN Shortage is Affecting Locum Tenens OB/GYN Careers & Salary Rates

This month, we take a closer look at one of the nation's most in-demand physician specialties. Welcome to Staff Care's Locum Tenens OB/GYN Specialty Spotlight.

If you're a physician practicing in the obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) specialty — or a resident preparing for a career as an OB/GYN physician — you can consider yourself in good company. According to the 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), OB/GYN physicians were the fourth most numerous in 2010, with more than 40,000 active physicians practicing that year. (The only specialties with more practitioners were in internal medicine, family medicine/general practice, and pediatrics, in that order.)

By the same measurement, the OB/GYN physician specialty also has the highest percentage of female practitioners, with an estimated 81.4% of females in obstetrics and gynecology residencies in 2010.

Given this prominence, it makes sense that OB/GYN physicians are also among the most-represented in terms of patient populations, with slightly more than 7,600 people per active OB/GYN physician in 2010 (again, per the AAMC).

Locum Tenens OB/GYN Salary Rates & Career Prospects

So, OB/GYN doctors are among the most numerous in the United States. But how do the average OB/GYN salary rates stack up against other physician specialties?

Somewhere in the middle, according to most estimates. Per the 2015 Medscape Physician Compensation Report, physicians practicing in the category of OB/GYN and women's health made an average of $249,000 annually, putting them around the mid-point of the entire physician salary list (which you can see here).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average OB/GYN salary rate in 2014 was $214,750.

The BLS also notes that the states with the highest level of OB/GYN employment were California, New York, Texas, and Florida. That's of little surprise, given that, as we learned above, OB/GYN physicians are one of the most represented in terms of patient populations, and those are the nation's four most populous states.

What does all this mean for OB/GYN physicians pursuing locum tenens opportunities (or any other type of practice opportunities, for that matter)? Obviously, the most populous states, like those listed above, and also including Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, have a higher demand for OB/GYN physicians than less populated states.

The OB/GYN Shortage & Physician Employment Outlook

However, it's also true that locum tenens OB/GYN physicians may actually find a richer variety of opportunities in rural communities, and/or in states that are among the least populated. As The Atlantic's Olga Khazan puts it, "about a fifth of Americans live in rural areas, but barely a tenth of physicians practice there."

And Khazan is just talking about primary care doctors. Many experts think things are even worse when it comes to OB/GYN shortage.

"More than 20 states are now in "Red Alert" crisis mode — meaning the number of ob-gyns isn't sufficient to meet patients' needs," wrote Dr. Richard E. Anderson for LiveScience back in 2013.

"On average, obstetricians pay the second-highest liability insurance premiums of any medical specialty, with only neurosurgeons paying more, and spend an average of nearly 15 percent of their careers fighting mostly fruitless or frivolous malpractice claims," Dr. Anderson writes.

"Indeed, ob-gyns answering the ACOG survey blamed their decision to drop obstetrics on the twin burdens of insurance affordability and outright fear of lawsuits. In many cases, ob-gyns can reduce their malpractice premiums in half by eliminating their obstetrical duties."

That may sound like unpleasant news, but the reality is that, for many obstetricians and gynecologists, there are more opportunities in more places than for many other specialties — particularly for locum tenens assignments, and particularly in rural areas. If you'd like to speak to a Staff Care recruiter about the opportunities for locum tenens OB/GYN career opportunities in your home region — or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter — we encourage you to CONTACT US.

You can also take a look at all available locum OB/GYN jobs here also give you a rundown of all the OB/GYN physician opportunities available throughout the United States. Join Staff Care's social networks on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube for even more updates.


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