Young physicians in certain specialties are having trouble finding their first jobs out of residency, a new study has found.
A survey of 3,090 resident program directors revealed that more than 20% of 1994 graduates in anesthesiology, gastroenterology and plastic surgery had difficulty finding positions. Nearly 11% of pathologists and 10% of plastic surgeons did not find full-time jobs in their specialties. In primary-care specialties, by contrast, no more than 2% of graduates could not find jobs.
Hospital-based specialties were some of the hardest hit. Among anesthesiologists, 26% had trouble finding work; among radiologists, 8%; and among pathologists, 9%. Emergency physicians, however, were snapped up. Less than 1% didn't find jobs.
Regionally, graduates had the hardest time finding jobs in the West and South.
Results of the study were published in the March 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The survey was conducted by two researchers at the American Medical Association and one researcher at the Association of American Medical Colleges. The goal was to establish a baseline reading to chart changes in physician supply as the medical marketplace tightens.
The study started from the assumption that the United States is on the verge of a "serious oversupply of physicians." The results of the survey show, the authors say, that physician oversupply is leading to unemployment and underemployment, at least in some specialties and in some regions.
Because the researchers couldn't contact the 15,999 graduating residents, they relied on the perceptions of program directors. "Directors of programs in family practice, emergency medicine and geriatrics were optimistic about the future for their graduates in the short term," the report says. "Directors of programs in anesthesiology, gastroenterology, radiology, cardiovascular disease and plastic surgery were pessimistic."