(HealthDay News) — The national radiologist workforce is becoming increasingly subspecialized, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Andrew B. Rosenkrantz, MD, from NYU Langone Health in New York City, and colleagues identified practicing radiologists and examined recent trends in the generalist versus subspecialist composition of the national workforce.

The researchers observed an increase in the percentage of radiologists practicing as subspecialists, from 37.1 percent in 2012 and 2013 to 38.8% in 2014, 41% in 2015, 43.9% in 2016, and 44.6% in 2017. Workforce changes per subspecialty from 2012 to 2017 were +3.7% for breast; +2.4 percent for abdominal; +1.8% for neuroradiology; +0.8% for musculoskeletal; +0.2% for cardiothoracic; −0.2% for nuclear; and −1.2% for interventional. Across cohorts defined by gender, years in practice, practice size, and academic status, increased subspecialization was observed consistently. The degree of increasing subspecialization was greatest for female (+12.1%) and earlier-career radiologists (+10.2% for those in practice <10 years) and those in larger groups (+7.% for ≥100 members).

“While radiology’s growing subspecialization is a positive change in the advancement of more sophisticated care, the potential impact on patient access from a diminishing supply of general radiologists, particularly in rural communities, is not yet known,” a coauthor said in a statement.

Reference

Rosenkrantz AB, Hughes DR, Duszak R, et al. Increasing Subspecialization of the National Radiologist Workforce. J Am Coll Radiol. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2019.11.027