Healthcare caseloads vary widely based on the particular specialty.

Public Health

Healthcare Shortage Means High Caseloads for Physicians

Schools are not minting enough healthcare professionals to meet demand, even as baby boomers age and need more care.

Which of the largest healthcare specialties has the highest caseload? If you happen to be a pulmonolologist, you may already feel it in your workload — it’s yours.

There are 4,867 active pulmonologists, according to the 2022 Physician Specialty Data Report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (the most recent data available). Those doctors have 67,099 patients each, according to the report.

Those high caseloads have mounted as an estimated 400,000 healthcare workers have left jobs since the pandemic began, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Worldwide, healthcare workers also struggle to meet the talent shortage.

Otolaryngologists rank sixth highest among caseloads, according to a Becker’s ASC Review ranking of the physician specialty report data that examines the largest specialties. The 9,616 active otolaryngologists in the U.S. are responsible for an estimated 33,961 patients each.

Some 10,081 urologists have 32,395 patients each, according to the ranking. In gastroenterology, 15,678 active physicians have 20,930 patients each.

Overall, there are an estimated 344 people per physician when considering all specialties, according to the physician data report.

In the ongoing shortage of healthcare professionals, the heavier workload takes its toll on those remaining.

Schools are not minting enough healthcare professionals to meet demand, even as baby boomers age and need more care. In fact, demand for healthcare workers will outpace supply by 2025, according to a Mercer analysis.

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032, as the over-65 population will grow by 48 percent. With the average age of a physician at 53.2 years old in 2021, many physicians soon will reach retirement age.

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