PHYSICIANS, DENTISTS, NURSES1
Physicians, dentists, and nurses are the three major professional groups involved in providing the bulk of the personal health services available in the country. Together, they represented about 600,000 individuals actively engaged in practice in 1950, accounting for about half the inventory. Each group involves a number of problems peculiar to the profession. Some characteristics, however, are common to all three, such as their tendency to follow the same geographic patterns, with proportionately heavy concentrations of practitioners in the northeastern sections of the country and on the West Coast, compared to other areas.
The three major professions are key indicators of the availability of health service. The quantity and variety of health service available in different parts of the country are indicated by a study of the geographic location of these three groups. A preliminary observation that is helpful as background for the discussions that follow in this chapter is to rank the nine geographic divisions in terms of favorable ratios of active, nonfederal physicians, dentists, and nurses to civilian population. There are wide gaps between the most favored and least favored locations; at opposite extremes there are areas with few of any types of health professionals and areas with many of all types. Separate states of course vary considerably from their division averages, but within the divisions the variations fall into regular patterns. The striking uniformity in the rank orders of the three professions among the geographic divisions is shown in the tabulation at the top of the next page.
The latest directory issued by the American Medical Association lists 201,277 physicians in the United States as of about July 1, 1949, exclusive of the June graduates of that year. The corresponding figure for 1950 may be estimated as about 204,400. This estimate takes into account the licentiates representing new additions to the____________________