Audiology Demographics and Demand
Windmill and Freeman (2013) applied the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) "Physician Supply Model" (modified to reflect U.S. audiology variables) to audiology, to predict the supply and demand of/for audiologists over the next three decades. Of note, HHS predicts the demand for physician services will likely increase by 60 percent over the next 30 years. As anticipated, the most significant growth areas for physicians are specialty areas serving the elderly (i.e., cardiology).
Windmill and Freeman report attrition (the number of people who voluntarily leave the profession after graduating) in audiology is surprisingly high, and is approximately 40 percent. They report that there are likely some 16,000 licensed audiologists in the United States, some 20 percent of all audiologists do not impact/participate in patient care, indicating some 12,800 audiologists actively proved patient care. Of the 12,800 providing patient care, some 11,200 are full-time equivalent (FTE). Approximately 15 years ago, there were 1,000 new audiology graduates per year (1995 to 1997) and in 2011 there were approximately 600. Of note, the average number of audiology students per school, per class year (across the United States) is 8. Windmill and Freeman report approximately 400 audiologists retire annually.
To meet future demands, Windmill and Freeman suggest the current capacity of audiologists must be increased by having more people enter audiology programs, and/or by having each audiologist increase their productivity and efficiency. Importantly, to increase the quantity of people entering audiology programs, the class sizes of established schools will need to increase, which is a complex and time-consuming process involving multiple layers and impediments. The authors note that allowing foreign trained audiologists to practice in the United States may be a viable option. Windmill and Freeman note that "…there is a reasonable certainty that demand for audiological services will rise in the future and the profession of audiology must begin to take the necessary steps to assure an adequate supply of practitioners to meet this demand."
For More Information, References and Recommendations
Windmill IM, Freeman BA. (2013) Demand for Audiology Services: 30 Year Projections and Impact on Academic Programs. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 24:407-416.