OBJECTIVE: To describe the distribution of the supply and requirements for subspecialty ophthalmologists.
METHODS: Estimates from the Eye Care Workforce Study were used to provide subspecialty-based assessments of the supply and public health need, as well as market demand, for care provided by subspecialists. Reconciliation with the boundary models (optometry first, ophthalmology first) of the Eye Care Workforce Study and current market status also were performed.
RESULTS: Whether subspecialists are in excess depends first on which boundary model most closely approximates the current market conditions. Under an optometry-first model, 70% of all ophthalmologists are in excess, although subspecialists (39%) are relatively less in excess than comprehensive ophthalmologists (91% excess). Under an ophthalmology-first model, no ophthalmologists would be in excess. Extrapolating from current market conditions, a slight excess of ophthalmologists exists, probably proportional across subspecialists and comprehensive ophthalmologists. Future growth in the ophthalmologist supply will be almost entirely among subspecialists.
CONCLUSION: Under current market conditions, substantial excesses in subspecialist ophthalmologists are likely to develop and grow worse over time, given current training levels.
Reprinted with permission from Archives of Ophthalmology, Vol. 116, July 1998, pp. 917-920. Copyright © 1998 American Medical Association.