Conference Board: Doctors, including ODs, at risk of short supply

Conference Board Report out of step with Workforce Study

The AOA is taking issue with a new business research report asserting that there will be a shortage of optometrists over the next decade-a claim at odds with the National Eye Care Workforce Study released in June.

"The bottom line is that optometrists continue to be well-positioned to meet the growing needs of Americans for medical eye care."

Published on Sept. 2, the report from the Conference Board-a global business membership and research association-concluded "among doctors, optometrists and podiatrists are the specialists most at risk of shortage, with the general physicians and surgeons category not far behind."

According to the Board's study, this is attributable to an overall increase in demand for health care providers due to an aging American population and an overall decrease in supply as practitioners retire. The Conference Board labor report tracked 464 occupations in the United States between 2012 and 2022.

National workforce study shows 'adequate supply'
Although there is consensus that the aging population will lead to increased demand, the Conference Board findings counter the conclusions drawn by the National Eye Care Workforce Study published in June.

Namely, the joint AOA-Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry workforce study group found an adequate supply of eye doctors-optometrists and ophthalmologists-inclusive of projections of new doctors, to meet demand for eye care through 2025.

What distinguishes the AOA-led Workforce Study from any other study attempting to examine the topic, explains Steven A. Loomis, O.D., AOA president-elect., is the detailed, comprehensive, multi-factorial approach that was taken. "We are confident that our understanding of the eye care workforce and our profession leads to a more accurate projection of both the opportunities and challenges that we will face, and that's the message we're continuing to deliver to the public, the media and government officials.

This comprehensive study is based on the most current survey and health sector data, and a computer model developed by The Lewin Group health-policy research firm. It factored demographic and public health trends, including:

  • Projected growth of the aging American population;

  • Increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes;

  • Expansions in health insurance coverage; and,

  • Designation in federal law that coverage for eye care is essential for children.

"The bottom line is that optometrists continue to be well-positioned to meet the growing needs of Americans for medical eye care," states Dr. Loomis, O.D. "Optometry will provide sufficient numbers of highly trained and competent doctors to provide for the care of Americans for years to come."

Read more about the National Eye Care Workforce Study in the September edition of AOA Focus, and find documents related to the workforce study at AOA Marketplace.

September 10, 2014

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