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J Allied Health. 1999 Summer;28(2):61-70.

Growth and geographic distribution of selected health professions, 1971-1996.

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Division of Pharmaceutical Policy and Evaluative Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599-7360, USA.


This article examines the growth and geographic distribution of selected health professions in a 26-year period. The health professionals investigated were physicians, dentists, pharmacists, registered nurses, other health practitioners, dieticians and therapists, medical technologists and technicians, and health service workers. Allied health professions are represented by the last three of these groups. Samples of health professionals were extracted from the Current Population Survey from 1971 to 1996. The ratio technique and GIN1 index are used to describe the growth trend and geographic distribution of each health professional group over time. This historical overview reveals the following general trends in the 1990s: 1) growth of every selected health professional group has slowed down; 2) workforce disparities between the most and least abundantly supplied geographic areas have decreased; 3) selected health professions have become less evenly distributed among the population; and 4) the trends in pharmacy and dentistry call for immediate attention in workforce planning. The findings suggest that with the exception of dentistry, health personnel shortages are no longer an issue in such planning. Future health workforce policies should continue focusing on improving the distribution of workers among the general population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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