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Retiring baby boomers set stage for gender parity in healthcare during next few years

Women comprised about 27% of U.S. physicians in 2004-a slow but steady climb from 26% in 2003 and 24% in 2000-according to the AMA 2006 Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the U.S., an annual report based on statistical information about all physicians in the country. But data suggest that the gender distribution of physicians may come much closer to parity in the next few years as the male-dominated generation of physician baby boomers retires. Mirroring trends in the general population, a significant portion of the physician population are approaching retirement age. Eighteen percent of physicians are already 65 or older compared to only 12% of the general population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000, and more than one-third of current physicians will reach retirement age within the next decade.