• Fact Sheet
  • January 19, 2018

Pediatric Workforce Shortages Persist

Children’s hospitals across the country continue to experience significant shortages in pediatric specialties. Pediatric specialty shortages affect children and their families’ ability to receive timely, appropriate care.

Pediatric specialty shortages burden children and families

A robust pediatric workforce is essential to ensuring that no child lacks access to high-quality medical care. Forty children’s hospitals recently responded to a 2017 Children’s Hospital Association survey that asked children’s hospitals to highlight the specialties with the longest appointment wait times and vacancies at their institutions.

"Days to third-next available appointment” is used to measure wait-time scheduling. This metric is considered a more accurate assessment of actual appointment availability as it helps control for availability due to a cancellation or random events.

Specialties with the highest average wait times

 CHGME Genetics 
20.8 weeks
 Developmental Pediatrics
18.7 weeks
 Pain Management Palliative Care
Pain Management
Palliative Care
12.1 weeks
Child and Adolescent
9.9 weeks
 dermatology icon
8.3 weeks
Allergy and Immunology 
7.7 weeks
 dentistry icon
7.6 weeks


Improvements: While not indicated in this report, pediatric neurology and pediatric rheumatology were listed among the areas with the top-five highest wait times in a 2012 CHA survey.

Surgical specialties with the highest average wait times

plastic surgery icon 
5.5 weeks
orthopedic icon
3.3 weeks
cardiovascular icon
2.3 weeks 
otolaryngology icon 
2.3 weeks

Children's hospitals' pediatric specialty shortages

Children’s hospitals were asked to name areas where pediatric specialist vacancies persisted for over a year. Hospitals also indicated the three specialty areas that most affect their ability to deliver care.

Percent of hospitals reporting vacancies

Pediatric specialists in emergency medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, endocrinology, rheumatology, hospitalists, pain management/palliative care, and adolescent medicine also are frequently reported as experiencing vacancies longer than 12 months.

Improvements: While not indicated in this report, general surgery, gastroenterology and pulmonology were frequently named as areas reporting vacancies in a 2012 survey.

Top-ranked shortages that affect ability to deliver care

top ranked pediatric workforce shortages





The next most frequently cited specialty shortages that most impact children’s hospitals include: pediatric emergency medicine, pediatric dermatology, pediatric pain management/palliative care, pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation, pediatric ophthalmology and pediatric allergy and immunology.

Improvements: While not currently indicated, gastroenterology, pediatric surgery and neurosurgery were frequently named as shortages most affecting ability to deliver care in a 2012 survey.

For more information about the workforce survey, contact Mitch Harris.