Only 8% of US emergency physicians practice in rural areas, study shows

In the U.S., only 3,927 emergency physicians (8 percent) practice in rural areas, a new analysis reveals

Published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the study includes an analysis of the 2020 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile data set. Researchers included all physicians who designated emergency medicine as their primary or secondary specialty in the analysis.

There are 48,835 clinically active emergency physicians in 2020, and 28 percent are women. The overall density of emergency physicians per 100,000 population is 14.9.

The analysis shows that most emergency physicians practice in urban areas (92 percent), whereas 6 percent practice in large rural areas and 2 percent in small rural areas.

Urban emergency physicians are younger, with a median age 50 years, compared to those in large rural areas, where the median age of emergency physicians is 58 years, or small rural areas, where median age is 62 years. Urban emergency physicians are also more likely to be women.

Additionally, researchers found that 71 percent of emergency physicians in small rural areas completed their medical training more than 20 years ago.

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