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

Child Health Needs and the Pediatric Nephrology Subspecialty Workforce: 2020–2040

Darcy K. Weidemann, Colin J. Orr, Victoria Norwood, Patrick Brophy, Mary B. Leonard, Isa Ashoor
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

Pediatric nephrology is dedicated to caring for children with kidney disease, a unique blend of acute care and chronic longitudinal patient relationships. Though historically a small field, trainee interest has declined over the past 2 decades. This has led to growing alarm about the health of the pediatric nephrology workforce, although concerns have been hampered by a lack of available data to enable feasible projections. This article is part of a supplement that anticipates the future pediatric subspecialty workforce supply. It draws on existing literature, data from the American Board of Pediatrics, and findings from a model that estimates the future supply of pediatric subspecialists developed by the Carolina Health Workforce Research Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and Strategic Modeling Analytics & Planning Ltd. The workforce projections from 2020 to 2040 incorporate population growth, clinical effort, and geographic trends and model alternate scenarios adjusting for changes in trainee interest, clinical efforts, and workforce attrition. The baseline model predicts growth of clinical work equivalents by 26% by 2040, but further widening geographic disparities worsen the existing mismatch between supply, clinical need, and market demand. The worst-case scenario projects 13% growth by 2040 which, at best, maintains the status quo of an already strained workforce. The models do not account for many factors expected to heighten demand over the coming decades. Urgent reforms are necessary now. Proposed solutions require multipronged changes in education and training pathways, remuneration, clinical practice models, and government policy.

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