Anecdotes abound about the tumultuous state of physician affairs in California. However, there is no objective evidence that large numbers of doctors are leaving California, according to a report released by the UCSF Center for Health Professions.
In fact, the ratio of physicians to population has increased from 177 doctors for every 100,000 people in 1994 to 190 per 100,000 in 2000. This is above the requirement set forth by the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME), according to the report titled The Practice of Medicine in California: A Profile of the Physician Workforce, the third in a series released by the UCSF Center for Health Professions' California Workforce Initiative.
The report's findings refute the following:
California now has too many primary care physicians and not enough specialists.
Doctors are leaving major urban centers in California.
Doctors are shunning managed care and finding plenty of patients without needing to contract with managed care plans.
Physicians' earnings are plummeting.
The study finds that in 2000, slightly more than one third of California's active, patient-care physicians practiced in the generalist fields of medicine (family practice, general practice, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics). "Although California still has many more specialists than generalists, the growth of specialists was slightly slower in recent years relative to the growth of generalists," said Kevin Grumbach, MD, UCSF associate professor of family and community medicine and co-principal investigator on the study. "The data indicate that public policy and the managed care environment in California may have had a modest effect on slowing the rate of growth of specialists relative to the rate of growth for generalists. However, the magnitude of this effect falls well short of the suggested mass exodus of specialists in California."