In a new white paper, “Physician Supply Considerations: The Emerging Shortage of Medical Specialists,” physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins Associates argues that specialists such as pulmonologists, psychiatrists and neurologists are in just as short supply as primary care physicians (PCPs) are, and that the situation is getting worse, reports Medscape.

In terms of demand within specialty and the number of job openings, pulmonologists are by far the most in-demand specialists whom Merritt Hawkins is hired to recruit, the report shows. The growing need for pulmonologists is driven by two factors: the aging of the population and the continuing rise in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The report notes that the physician workforce is also aging, and many doctors are nearing retirement. Forty-three percent of U.S. physicians are 55 years or older, and specialists are older, on average, than PCPs. For example, 73% of pulmonologists are age 55 or older. The same is true for 60% of psychiatrists.

Medscape specialist physician supply