Ultrasound is pivotal to the practice of obstetrics-gynecology (OB-GYN). In the US, physicians who perform ultrasound are facing the unprecedented need for their services and skills. OB-GYNs, in particular, have been challenged to meet rising demands in women\'s healthcare, as a result of an increasing female population, while the supply of physicians is not keeping pace. The ACOG projects current shortages will continue to grow to a deficit of up to 22,000 OB-GYNs by 2050. The future of the OB-GYN workforce is compromised by an aging OB-GYN population, insufficient OB-GYN residency positions, and a decreasing number of young physicians choosing to specialize in OB-GYN.
As a consequence of mismatched supply and demand, practicing OB-GYNs are experiencing alarming rates of medical burnout, jeopardizing their mental health and wellness. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated risks to mental health; however, OB-GYNs have reported higher levels of burnout compared to other specialties, both before and after the pandemic. This article examines the threats to OB-GYN\'s central role in the provision of OB-GYN ultrasound, including factors contributing to insufficient growth of the OB-GYN workforce, and the resulting impacts on practicing OB-GYNs’ job satisfaction and overall well-being.
Data on medical burnout affecting OB-GYNs, both before and after the COVID-19 pandemic, is presented along with a comparison of job satisfaction and wellness data collected from OB-GYNs and radiologists–the two groups of specialists performing female pelvic and OB ultrasound exams in the US.
Understanding the factors that discourage medical graduates from entering into OB-GYN residencies is critical, not only for recruitment but for the development of strategies to support currently practicing OB-GYNs. Prevention of medical burn-out among OB-GYNs will be essential to keep OB-GYNs practicing through retirement age while attracting others to the specialty. The creation of rewarding work environments, which allow for a healthy work-life balance, will be essential to meeting the demand for specialized women\'s health and reproductive care. Protecting the well-being of those practicing now, will be instrumental to the development of a sufficient OB-GYN workforce, and ensure its central role in the provision of OB-GYN ultrasound.
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