Diagnostic radiologists in 2000: basic characteristics, practices, and issues related to the radiologist shortage

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2002 Feb;178(2):291-301. doi: 10.2214/ajr.178.2.1780291.


Objective: We sought to describe radiologists and their practices, emphasizing trends in retirement age, practice size, and perceived workload burden.

Materials and methods: In spring 2000, we surveyed 3,027 randomly selected radiologists by mail, of whom 74% responded. We weighted responses to make answers representative of all radiologists and compared findings with a similar 1995 survey.

Results: Thirty percent of radiologists age 65-69 were working full-time; 21% were working part-time. Overall, the full-time equivalency of radiologists age 55-74 was 67.6%, not significantly different from 1995. If current patterns of retirement and production of graduates continue, the workforce will grow at a rate of approximately 2% annually. Fifty-one percent of radiologists said that recognizing that income depends largely on work done, they had "much too much work" or "somewhat too much work"; 5% reported "somewhat too little work" or "much too little work." Six percent of posttraining professionally active radiologists were in solo practice, down from 8% in 1995; 15% were in two-to-four-radiologists groups, down from 17%; and 38% were in groups of 15 or more, up from 30%. Sixteen percent of posttraining professionally active radiologists were women. The percentage was highest (29%) for those younger than age 35 but was lower (22%) among trainees.

Conclusion: The findings of excess work are further evidence of a radiologist shortage. However, contrary to surveys of groups that are hiring, we found minimal evidence of earlier retirement. Nonetheless, workload currently is increasing faster than the workforce is likely to grow, so the shortage will probably intensify. The typical number of radiologists in a practice is increasing, but slowly.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Radiology*
  • Retirement
  • United States
  • Workforce
  • Workload