The dermatology work force: a focus on urban versus rural wait times

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 Jul;61(1):17-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2008.09.008. Epub 2009 May 7.


Background: Recent studies suggest a shortage of dermatologists with an average wait time of 36 days in the United States and 40 days in Ohio for a routine dermatology visit. To date, no previous studies have examined supply and demand of dermatology services in rural versus urban populations.

Objective: We sought to determine the average wait time for a dermatology appointment for new and established patients in both urban and rural areas.

Methods: The offices of 250 dermatologists in Ohio were contacted by telephone to determine the wait time for the next available appointment for new and established patients with a changing mole.

Results: The average wait time for new (4.5 weeks) and established (3.1 weeks) patients was similar to times reported in previous studies. A greater density of all dermatologists and medical (general) dermatologists practice in cities, but wait times were not statistically different in rural versus urban settings.

Limitations: Neither insurance status or use of physician extenders were considered. The findings may not be applicable to areas outside Ohio.

Conclusion: There is a shortage of medical dermatologists throughout Ohio. Training more medical dermatologists or adding physician extenders to dermatology practices would be expected to decrease the waiting time for dermatology appointments. Providing incentives for dermatologists to practice in underserved rural areas may not be necessary judging by the similarities in wait times between rural and urban settings.

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Dermatology*
  • Humans
  • Ohio
  • Rural Population
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Urban Population
  • Waiting Lists*
  • Workforce