DOI: 10.1542/peds.2023-063678b ISSN: 0031-4005

Child Health and the US Pediatric Subspecialty Workforce: Planning for the Future

Laurel K. Leslie, Colin J. Orr, Adam L. Turner, Richard Mink, Mary B. Leonard, Kathryn A. Sabadosa, Robert J. Vinci
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

This article opens a multi-article Pediatrics supplement that provides a rigorous analysis of the projected pediatric subspecialty workforce in the United States. Congenital variations, epigenetics, exposures, lifestyle, preventive care, and medical interventions from conception through young adulthood set the stage for health and wellbeing in adulthood. Although care provided by pediatric subspecialists is associated with better outcomes and lower costs compared with adult providers, the authors of recent articles in the lay and medical literature have questioned the capacity of pediatric subspecialists to meet children’s health care needs. This article highlights that, despite numerous advances in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, the last decade has witnessed increasing numbers of children with acute or chronic physical and mental health disorders, including medical complexity, obesity, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, and suicidality, all of which are exacerbated by poverty, racism, and other social drivers of health. In this article, we then describe the variability in the demographics, practice characteristics, and geographic distribution of the 15 core pediatric subspecialties certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. We then discuss the rationale and approach to the development of a pediatric subspecialty workforce model that forecasts subspecialist supply from 2020 to 2040 for 14 subspecialties at the national and subnational levels (not including the newest subspecialty, pediatric hospital medicine), accounting for US Census Bureau child population projections. The model does not account for the unique physical and mental needs of individual children, nor does it address the increasingly precarious commitment to, and financing of, pediatric subspecialty care in the US health care system impacting market demand.

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