Barriers to Entering Medical Specialties

38 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2003 Last revised: 15 May 2021

See all articles by Sean Nicholson

Sean Nicholson

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2003

Abstract

Non-primary care physicians earn considerably more than primary care physicians in the United States. I examine a number of explanations for the persistent high rates of return to medical specialization and conclude that barriers to entry may be creating an economic shortage of non-primary care physicians. I estimate that medical students would be willing to pay teaching hospitals to obtain residency positions in dermatology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, and radiology rather than receiving the mean residents' salary of $34,000. In the simulation, the quantity of residents in these four specialties would increase by an estimated six to 30 percent, rates of return would fall substantially, and teaching hospitals would save an estimated $0.6 to $1.0 billion per year in labor costs.

Suggested Citation

Nicholson, Sean, Barriers to Entering Medical Specialties (April 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w9649, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=398552

Sean Nicholson (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM) ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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