Minnesota Physicians Facts and Data 2005

The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care asks physicians to answer questions about their employment status and the nature of their practices each year when they renew their licenses. Response is voluntary and does not affect license renewal.

Urban-Rural Definitions

Old definitions. Physician workforce data has previously been reported for “urban” and “rural” portions of the state. Urban has been defined to include seven Twin Cities metropolitan counties (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington) and the cities of Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud.

New definitions. For 2005, data is also reported for three groupings that focuses greater attention on the 46 most rural counties:

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) counties – 21 Minnesota counties included in seven metropolitan statistical areas (Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Cloud, Rochester, Duluth-Superior, Fargo, Grand Forks and La Crosse)

Micropolitan counties – 20 counties surrounding smaller urban centers of at least 10,000 people

Rural – 46 counties outside MSAs and Micropolitan areas

 In data tables below, gray shaded columns are used to distinguish data reported under the old urban-rural definition from data reported under the new MSA-micropolitan-rural definition.

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Numbers of physicians

As of April 3, 2006, there were 17,674 physicians licensed in Minnesota. Of these, 13,780 had Minnesota mailing addresses. Some of these were retired or not working as doctors, and some practiced in other states. Similarly some of the physicians with non-Minnesota addresses practiced at Minnesota sites.

Based on survey responses and licensing data from the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care estimates approximately 13,330 physicians were practicing at least part time at Minnesota practice sites in early 2005. This estimate is uncertain because of the way the data was gathered. For explanation of this estimate, see the methodological note at the end of this site.

Using the July 1, 2005, population estimate for Minnesota, 13,300 physicians equate to 260 active physicians per 100,000 people.

All data reported below is for physicians who worked at least part time at a primary practice site in Minnesota, according to the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care survey of physicians renewing licenses for 2005.


Geographic distribution

  • Physicians’ primary practice sites are disproportionately in metropolitan area counties.
  • The 46 most rural counties have 13 percent of the state’s population, but only 5 percent of the state’s practicing physicians.
  • More than one-third (33.8 percent) of all respondents said their primary practice site was in Hennepin County. Olmsted County accounted for 16.7 percent and Ramsey County 11.5 percent.

pie chart of geographic distribution of physicians pie chart of Minnesota population

2004 Population

% Population

% Physicians

Urban (old definition)

3,015,421

58.6%

80.6%

Rural (old definition)

2,129,685

41.%

19.4%

Statewide

5,145,106

100.0%

100.0%

Metropolitan counties

3,732,499

72.5%

85.0%

Micropolitan counties

752,857

14.6%

10.1%

Rural

659,750

12.8%

4.9%

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Gender of physicians by age and location

  • Only 28 percent of all physicians are women, but women account for more than 40 percent of physicians under age 45.
  • Female physicians are more common in metropolitan counties, but the gender gap among metropolitan, micropolitan and rural areas is not large.
  • Eighty-eight percent of female physicians practice in metropolitan counties.
Respondents
Percentage Male
Percentage Female
All physicians
8,253*
72.2
27.5
By age
Under 35
810
56.4
45.4
35-44
2,409
61.9
38.1
45-54
2,742
73.0
27.0
55-64
1,653
87.1
12.9
65 and older
621
94.4
5.6
By location
Urban (old definition)
6,634
71.3
28.7
Rural (old definition)
1,601
77.0
23.0
Metropolitan
7,001
71.5
28.5
Micropolitan
828
78.5
21.5
Rural
406
76.1
23.9
*Includes only physicians for whom gender is known.

Age of physicians active in Minnesota by location

  •  The median age of physicians is 48, and varies only slightly between more urban and more rural areas.
  • Twenty-eight percent of physicians are 55 or older.

bar chart of MN physicians by age

Age Group

Statewide
n = 1.872 respondents

Urban (old)
n = 1,287
respondents

Rural (old)
n = 585
respondents

Metropolitan
n = 1,920
respondents

Micropolitan
n = 334
respondents

Rural
n =192 respondents

Median age
48
48
48
48
49
48
Less than 35

9.8%

10.4%

7.4%

10.3%

5.7%

9.4%

35-44

29.2%

29.0%

29.9%

29.1%

28.9%

30.5%

45-54

33.3%

33.4%

32.7%

33.3%

33.7%

31.0%

55-64

20.2%

19.7%

22.3%

19.6%

24.7%

21.2%

65 and older

7.6%

7.5%

7.7%

7.6%

7.0%

7.9%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

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Physician specialties

  • Eighty-eight percent of respondents reported board certification in at least one specialty. Nineteen percent said they had certifications in two or more fields.
  • The 10 leading principal non-surgical specialties were:

    23 percent: Family Medicine
    12 percent: Internal Medicine
    9 percent: Pediatrics
    5 percent: Psychiatry
    4 percent: Obstetrics/Gynecology
    4 percent: Emergency Medicine
    4 percent: Radiology
    4 percent: Anesthesiology
    3 percent: Cardiovascular Diseases
    2 percent: Neurology

  • About 47 percent of Minnesota physicians report primary care as their first specialization. Primary care includes family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology.
  • Ten percent reported a surgical specialty as their first area of specialization.
  • Thirty-five percent of primary care physicians are women. But only 8 percent of physicians who claim a surgical specialty as their principal specialization are women.
  • Fifty-nine percent of female physicians report primary care as their principal specialization, compared to 42 percent of male physicians.
  • Seventy-seven percent of rural physicians are primary care physicians, compared to 57 percent of physicians in micropolitan counties and only 44 percent of physicians in metropolitan counties.
  • Only 4 percent of surgical specialists and less than 2 percent of other non-primary care specialists practice in the state’s 46 most rural counties.
  • The Mayo Clinic makes Olmsted County unique. Olmsted County accounts for 16 percent of the state’s surgical specialists and 24 percent of other non-primary care specialists. Only 28 percent of Olmsted County physicians report their principal specialization in primary care.

pie chart of MN physicians specializations

bar graph of physician gender by specialization

pie chart of phys. specialties in metropie chart of phys. specialties in micro counties pie chart of phys. specialties in rural counties

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Types of practice sites  

  • Nearly two-thirds (64.5 percent) of physicians said their primary practice site was a provider office or clinic. Thirty-two percent said their primary practice site was a hospital or emergency room.
  • Physicians in micropolitan and rural counties are less likely than metropolitan area physicians to be based in hospitals; they are more likely than metropolitan physicians to work in provider offices and clinics.
  • More than one-fourth of physicians in metropolitan area counties have their primary practice sites in teaching hospitals. Teaching hospitals are concentrated in the Twin Cities and Rochester.

 Type of Site

All physicians

Urban (old)

Rural (old)

Metropolitan

Micropolitan

Rural

Respondents

8,253

6,649

1,604

7,017

830

406

Office/Clinic

64.5%

61.7%

76.2%

62.6%

74.0%

78.3%

Teaching Hospitals

19.6%

23.6%

2.8%

22.5%

2.8%

3.4%

Other Hospitals

8.0%

6.7%

13.5%

7.0%

15.4%

11.1%

Emergency Rooms

3.9%

3.5%

5.7%

3.6%

5.3%

6.4%

Other*

7.8%

8.1%

6.1%

8.1%

6.3%

6.1%

Percentages add to more than 100 percent because some respondents checked more than one option to describe their primary practice site. * “Other” includes laboratories, medical schools, nursing homes, hospices, treatment facilities and other kinds of workplaces.


Methodological note for numbers of physicians

Data reported here is from responses received from physicians renewing their licenses during 2005. License renewals come due by birth date. For this reason, answers to survey questions are not from a single point in time, but over a 12-month period.

The Board of Medical Practice received 17,784 license renewals during 2005. Some of the data reported here is collected by the Board during the licensing process. This data includes age, certified specialties and work site address.

Together, the Board’s data collection and the ORHPC survey produced data on 14,565 physicians. Of these, 10,885 had a primary work site in Minnesota. Because of gaps in data collection, information on hours worked was not received from an estimated 21 percent of these physicians. Of respondents with information both about work site and hours worked, 75 percent were actively working at a primary work site in Minnesota.

The exact number of physicians actually practicing in Minnesota is not known. If 75 percent of all licensed physicians were actually working at a Minnesota work site, the total number of active physicians in Minnesota in 2005 would have been about 13,350. This estimate is about 20 percent higher than the estimate made from 2004 survey data; however, both estimates are subject to error.

Using the July 1, 2005, population estimate for Minnesota, 13,300 physicians equate to 260 active physicians per 100,000 people.

Because of different data sources and definitions, this estimate of 260 active physicians is not directly comparable to other reported data. The Bureau of Health Professions in the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration reported that Minnesota had 194 active patient care physicians per 100,000 people in 2000, just below the national ratio of 198. Minnesota had 76 active primary care physicians per 100,000 people, exceeding the national ratio of 69.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Minnesota had 262 licensed physicians per 100,000 people in 2000, compared to a national rate of 253. These figures include all licensed physicians, whether actively practicing in the state or not.

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Updated Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 12:28PM