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Nation's OB-GYN Shortage Is Only Getting Worse

Half of US counties don't have one
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2018 7:30 AM CST
An obstetrician-gynecologist at AnMed Health Women and Children's hospital starts an ultrasound on May 18, 2016.   (Ken Ruinard/The Independent-Mail via AP)

(Newser) – Women planning to get pregnant will want to take note. Half of US counties are currently without an OB-GYN, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which finds that women in Arizona, Washington, Utah, and Idaho are at the greatest risk of an OB-GYN shortage, reports Glamour. Those in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Nevada aren't far behind, and the issue isn't going away soon. Rural areas are expected to feel the worst of the effects of a predicted nationwide shortage of 8,800 OB-GYNs by 2020 and 22,000 by 2050. But population data suggests Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami, Detroit, Memphis, Salt Lake City, and St. Louis could also suffer shortages of doctors specially trained in matters relating to women's reproductive health, including pregnancy, per Fortune.

In problem areas, the female population is increasing while the number of OB-GYNs is not. On average, OB-GYNs retire several years earlier than primary care physicians. "There's a really high rate of burnout," Heather Bartos, a 47-year-old OB-GYN who delivers up to 25 babies a month in Texas tells Glamour. ACOG chief Hal Lawrence says "you have to really love what you do"; in addition to night work, doctors describe "devastating" lows when childbirth doesn't go to plan. Accordingly, malpractice insurance is important but expensive, taking up to a third of a doctor's salary in some areas, according to Bartos. Some OB-GYNs prefer to transition to gynecology specifically, per Glamour, which notes women may have to rely on teams of medical professionals, including midwives. (This obstetrician delivered one baby, then gave birth to her own.)

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