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Forecasting Future Supply of Pediatric Subspecialties: Addressing Misalignment with Population Health Needs

The Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy at the Sheps Center partnered with Strategic Modelling and Analysis Ltd. (SMAP) and Dr. Colin Orr from the Department of Pediatrics at UNC-CH to develop a model forecasting the future supply of 14 pediatric sub-specialties. The model, released in January 2024, forecasts pediatric subspecialist supply out to 2040 at the national and subnational level. Findings suggest that the supply, and training locations, of pediatric subspecialists are not well aligned with population health needs.

This work was undertaken with funding and collaboration from the American Board of Pediatrics Foundation. In addition to an interactive, web-based model that allows users to access and customize forecasts for specific subspecialties and geographies of interest, the model’s methods and findings were published in a supplement of Pediatrics in February 2024. Seven articles in the supplement were authored by the team that developed the model.

Figure 1: Projection of Workforce Supply for All Pediatric Subspecialties (Combined) by Census Division, Baseline Scenario, 2040

The projected growth of the pediatric subspecialty workforce does not align with projected growth of the child population. The South and West census regions are projected to increase their child populations more than the Northeast and the Midwest regions by 2040. Yet the supply of pediatric subspecialists is projected to be highest in the Northeast (Figure 1), a region where a large number of fellowship positions are located. The Northeast region is projected to see a 4% growth in the child population (0-18 years) by 2040 compared to a 19% growth in the South and 23% growth rate in the west.