California Physicians: Who They Are, How They Practice

Janet Coffman, Associate Professor, UCSF School of Medicine, Institute for Health Policy Studies
Igor Geyn, Healthforce Center at UCSF
Margaret Fix, UCSF School of Medicine, Institute for Health Policy Studies


Note: Data on the chart on page 18 and in the footnotes on pages 18, 19, and 20 were updated in August 2018.

The number of licensed physicians in California has grown steadily over the past 20 years, increasing 44% between 1993 and 2013, and has outpaced the state’s 23% growth in population. Demand for physicians is expected to increase as the population ages. Ensuring access to care is a concern, as one-third of the state’s physicians are over age 60. California Physicians: Who They Are, How They Practice describes the physician market in California.

Key findings include:

 

The supply of licensed physicians does not accurately reflect their availability to provide care. Only 78% of physicians with active licenses provided patient care 20 or more hours per week.

Patient Care Hours Worked, California, 2015
Latinos were underrepresented among physicians. Latinos represented 38% of California’s population, but only 5% the state’s physicians were Latino. Race/Ethnicity of Physicians and Population, California, 2015
Physicians were less likely to have uninsured patients in their practice than patients with any type of health insurance. Physicians with Patients in Practice, by Coverage Type, California, 2015
Twenty-seven percent of physicians (35% of PCPs and 23% of specialists) attended medical school in a foreign country. Physicians, by Medical School Location and Speciality, California, 2015
Physician supply varied by region. The Greater Bay Area was the only region that met the recommended supply of primary care physicians (PCPs). The Inland Empire, San Joaquin Valley, and Northern and Sierra Counties all fell short of the recommended supply of specialists. Primary Care Physicians and Specialists, by California Region, 2015

Further data and analysis on this topic is available from Healthforce Center at UCSF, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the California Office of the Patient Advocate, Cattaneo & Stroud’s Annual Medical Survey, the Integrated Healthcare Association, and the Medical Board of California.

The complete report, as well as previous editions and an infographic, is available under Document Downloads.