doctors in the house?

Austin among major U.S. metros suffering from shortage of healthcare workers

Austin among U.S. metros suffering from shortage of healthcare workers

Doctor using a tablet
Austin ranks No. 4 among major metros with the least healthcare workers. Photo by andrei_r/Getty Images

A new study indicates that Austin-Round Rock is home to one of the lowest rates of healthcare workers among major U.S. metro areas.

The study, released by credit-building loan platform Self, shows the Austin metro area has only 3.17 healthcare workers for every 100 residents. That places it at No. 4 on the list of major metros (at least 1 million residents) with the lowest share of healthcare workers — including doctors, nurses, and therapists — per capita.

Only one other Texas metro appears in the study. Despite being home to the world's largest medical center, Houston has a reported 3.35 healthcare workers per 100 residents. That puts it at No. 10 on the list. 

Other reports indicate the entire Central Texas region is witnessing an escalating shortage of nurses.

A 2016 report from the Texas Department of State Health Services envisions the supply of registered nurses (RNs) — the largest group of nursing professionals — will climb 49.1 percent from 2015 to 2030 in the Central Texas public health region, compared with a 63.9 percent surge in demand. That equates to a projected shortage of 7,460 RNs in 2030. 

Conversely, from 2017 to 2027, the supply of primary care physicians in the Central Texas region will increase enough for a small surplus of providers, according to a 2018 report from the Texas Department of State Health Services. But from 2027-2030, the report predicts that demand will once again outweigh supply, leading to "an eventual shortage of 19" primary care physicians in the region.

In a 2019 survey commissioned by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute, about 90 percent of primary care physicians across the country predicted a shortage in their field within five years. Seventy-eight of specialty physicians anticipated a shortage of specialists.

On the consumer side, the survey found 19 percent of patients reported difficulty scheduling an initial visit with a primary care physician, and 15 percent ran into trouble setting up a new visit with a specialist.

By 2030, Texas will experience the third largest shortage of physicians among the states (20,420 jobs), according to a study published in 2020 in the journal Human Resources for Health. Only California and Florida will see worse shortages, the study predicts. The physician shortage in Texas is being driven by a growing population, an aging population, and an aging pool of doctors, according to the study.

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A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, InnovationMap.