Employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The growing and aging population is expected to drive overall growth in the demand for physician services as consumers continue to seek high levels of care that uses the latest technologies, diagnostic tests, and therapies.
Although the demand for physicians and surgeons is expected to continue, some factors will likely temper growth. New technologies will allow physicians to treat more patients in the same amount of time, thereby reducing the number of physicians who would be needed to complete the same tasks. In addition, physician assistants and nurse practitioners can do many of the routine duties of physicians and may be used to reduce costs at hospitals and doctor's offices.
Demand for physicians' services is sensitive to changes in healthcare reimbursement policies. Consumers may seek fewer physician services if changes to health coverage result in higher out-of-pocket costs for them. However, the number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform. Such access will in turn increase demand for the services of physicians and surgeons.
Job prospects should be good for physicians who are willing to practice in rural and low-income areas, because these areas tend to have difficulty attracting physicians. Job prospects also should be good for physicians in specialties dealing with health issues that largely affect aging baby boomers. For example, physicians specializing in cardiology and radiology will be needed because the risks for heart disease and cancer increase as people age.
Physicians and Surgeons
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Health diagnosing and treating practitioners
Physicians and surgeons
Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program