Thursday, January 22, 2009

Palliative Medicine Board Certification Numbers

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and ABIM released the final test taking numbers for the first round of official accredited boards for HPM. Now we are all just waiting on them to release the actual board scores. Some interesting findings from the demographics of the 1,455 test takers.

Internal Medicine -892
Family Medicine - 400
Pediatrics 52
Psychiatry/Neurology -30
Anesthesiology -22
Radiology - 17
Emergency Medicine - 12
Surgery - 12
Obstetrics and Gynecology - 9
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation - 9

So one big question I have about some of the less represented specialties is: are these mid career changes and these doctors are now doing strictly palliative medicine or are they still practicing radiologists, surgeons, etc and are adding palliative medicine to their repertoire? If you are from psych, neuro, anesthesiology, radiology, EM, surgery, OB/GYN, or PMR please comment and help the rest of palliative medicine understand what drew you to the field. I would like to see a much larger representation across the specialties, but with fellowship becoming the sole pathway to a HPM board certification in the future, the chance to establish foothold in the other fields is diminshing.

Looking at these numbers and comparing to rough estimates of work force can give us an idea of what the saturation of palliative medicine is within each specialty.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates about 633,000 physicians employed in 2006. Here are the following reordered breakdown of physicians by specialty (approx) with the number of HPM physicians in each. (1 HPM physician out of x specialists)

Internal Medicine (ABIM) - 177,000 - 1 out of 198
Family Medicine (AFP) - 100,000 - 1 out of 250
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR) - 8,000 - 1 out of 888

Pediatrics (AAP) - 90,000 - 1 out of 1730
Radiology (ACR) 32,000 - 1 out of 1882
Psychiatry/Neurology (ABPN) - 46,000 & 13,000 - 1 out of 1966

Emergency Medicine (ABEM) - 34,000 - 1 out of 2833
Surgery (ABS) - 55,000 - 1 out of 4583
Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) - 52,000 - 1 out of 5777

Anesthesiology (ABA) - unable to access ABA

(Here it is as a spreadsheet if you want to copy the numbers)

What are your thoughts on this distribution?