Objective: To develop effective policies addressing access to health care for all women in the United States, we report the distribution of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Fellows and Junior Fellows in practice at county and state levels.
Methods: Data were gathered from the 2010 U.S. County Census File for adult women (aged 15 years or older) and reproductive-aged women (15-44 years old) and from the 2010 membership roster of ACOG. The number of postresidency, actively practicing physicians trained in general obstetrics and gynecology per targeted population were recorded at state and district levels and mapped at county levels using uDig GIS software and U.S. Census TIGER/Line Shapefiles.
Results: In 2010, the 33,624 general obstetrician-gynecologists (ob-gyns) in the United States, comprised 5.0% of the total 661,400 physicians. There were 2.65 ob-gyns per 10,000 women and 5.39 ob-gyns per 10,000 reproductive-aged women. The density of ob-gyns declined from metropolitan to micropolitan and to rural counties. Approximately half (1,550, 49%) of the 3,143 U.S. counties lacked a single ob-gyn, and 10.1 million women (8.2% of all women) lived in those predominantly rural counties. Such counties, located especially in the central and mountain west regions, were commonly in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas.
Conclusion: An uneven distribution of ACOG Fellows and Junior Fellows in practice exists throughout the United States and may worsen if resident graduates continue to cluster in metropolitan areas. Meeting the needs of women in underserved areas requires creative innovations in enhancing a more uniform geographic distribution of providers.
Level of evidence: III.