Washington state releases 2021 physician supply report


Aaron Kunkler


The annual Physician Supply report was released today, and shows that the number of physicians in Washington State increased over the last year. 

The report, issued by the state Office of Financial Management, estimates that the physician supply statewide increased by 769, from the 2020 total of 20,563. It described the growth as a ‘bumper year,’ as the increase in physician supply outpaced the rise in general population, as the number of physicians per 100,000 residents increased from 269 to 275. 


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As in 2020, the report found that the five largest categories of physician specialties continue to be the catchall ‘other specialty,’ family medicine and general practice, general internal medicine, emergency medicine and anesthesiology. Each of these categories has more than 1,250 physicians working across the state. 



King County had nearly 8,800 physicians, accounting for 41.2% of all physicians in the state. It was followed by Pierce County with 9.1% and Snohomish County with 8.6%. The number of doctors is generally weighted towards more populous counties, and 25 of the state’s 39 counties have fewer than 1% of the total physicians each. 

Despite King County having the highest number of physicians, its large population means it ranks second — behind Chelan County — when examining its physician-to-population ration, as can be seen in the graphic below from the report. 



For family medicine and general practice physicians per 100,000 residents, Columbia, Klickitat and Chelan counties top the list. And Whatcom, Walla Walla and Chelan were the top three counties with the highest ratio of internal medicine physicians. 



The percentage of female physicians in Washington State also increased to a new high of 40.4%. In primary care, there’s now a majority of female physicians at 51%. 

Across all specialties, the median age of physicians remained the same as in 2020 at 49 years of age. Of the counties where the average age was older than 49, many were rural, and in King County, the average age of physicians was slightly under the state average.