Baby boomer doctors and nurses: demographic change and transitions to retirement

Deborah J. Schofield*, John R. Beard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To examine the effect of demographic change on employment patterns for general practitioners, medical specialists and nurses since 1986, and to compare their patterns of retirement. Design and setting: Secondary analysis of previously unpublished Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data for the years 1986, 1991, 1996 and 2001. Main outcome measures: Age distribution of GPs, specialists and nursing workforce; attrition rates as GPs, specialists and nurses left the workforce; and hours worked according to age group. Results: The age profile of the GP, specialist and nursing workforce has aged since 1986 (P < 0.001), with the "baby boomer" generation making up more than half the workforce in 2001. A large proportion of GPs continued to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 years, with nurses retiring at a younger age than doctors (P < 0.001). All GP cohorts worked fewer hours in 2001 than they did in 1986 (P < 0.001), with "generation X" GPs working fewer hours than the baby boomers did at the same age (P < 0.001). Conclusions: Attrition of baby boomer clinicians will place unprecedented pressure on the medical workforce, and policy makers face a critical challenge to ensure workforce needs are met over the next 20 years. Policies and incentives to encourage ongoing employment among older clinicians, albeit at reduced hours, are crucial if the Australian health workforce is to be adequate to meet the growing community demand of the 21st century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-83
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Baby boomer doctors and nurses: demographic change and transitions to retirement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this