A new analysis published by Robert C. Bowman, MD, Professor, A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona, explores the true distribution of physicians in the United States. Dr. Bowman reports the overall distribution rate of 260 physicians per 100,000 population, looking at the total number of physicians and the total population. However, a county-by-county review of the distribution of physicians across U.S. counties by actual number of physicians per 100,000 population produces a more stratified result. About 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in 2,206 U.S. counties where there are fewer than 150 physicians per 100,000 population – 6 percent of U.S. physicians serve 20 percent of the population living in those low-service counties. At the other end of the continuum, about 17 percent of the U.S. population lives in 122 counties served by more than 400 (up to 2,200) physicians per 100,000 population – 34 percent of physicians serve 17 percent of the population. Bowman’s analysis is available online here. He suggests that there should be new approaches to identifying underserved communities.
A further analysis of physician practice by county explores the distribution of 1987-1996 medical school graduates by practice location in counties with a low distribution of physicians. During that time period, when there were only 12 to 16 osteopathic medical colleges, 11 osteopathic colleges were included in the list of 24 medical colleges with highest concentrations of graduates in counties where the distribution of physicians to population was lower than 300 to 100,000.