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Data Visualization Highlights Disparities in Pediatrics, Drives Decision-Making

Thursday, February 21, 2019 - 10:30

The ABP has transformed its workforce data book into an interactive experience through digital data visualizations.

Data relating to trainees, certification areas, and more can be filtered easily by gender, age, and location, instantly generating dynamic maps, graphs, and tables.


Dr. Michelle RheaultGeographic disparity is a significant problem in many subspecialties — an issue pediatric nephrologist Michelle Rheault, MD, sees in her field.

“For a small pediatric subspecialty like nephrology, the workforce is always top of mind,” says Dr. Rheault, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology at the University of Minnesota.

She has used the ABP workforce data to look further into geographic distribution throughout the country. By simply choosing her subspecialty, Dr. Rheault can see an overview of where board-certified pediatric nephrologists are practicing — or not.

“Patients from those states [with no pediatric nephrologists] end up having to travel really far distances,” she says. “We have to create very complicated travel schedules for those patients.”

By identifying underserved areas, subspecialty practitioners can look for solutions, including possibly establishing training programs in less-populated areas or using telehealth.


Dr. Tamorah LewisNeonatologist Tamorah Lewis, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and a clinician-researcher at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, understands the correlation between a diverse workforce and patient outcomes. She uses the ABP interactive dashboards to analyze demographic makeup (currently age, gender, and medical school graduate type) in her subspecialty and to plan for how best to prepare future pediatricians.

“One question we always ask ourselves at a big, free-standing children’s hospital is, ‘What do our trainees look like in comparison to other places? What does our faculty look like in comparison to other places?’” Dr. Lewis says.

Dr. Lewis chairs a subcommittee at her hospital focused on trainee diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has used the new dashboards to review diversity trends and found she really enjoyed the ability to easily sift through the ABP data.

“When I realized I could change the age range and focus on certain places in the country, I thought, ‘This is incredible.’” says Dr. Lewis. “You were really, clearly thoughtful about the ways we could change the tables, change the figures, and even hover over things for more information. It’s really well done.

“One major demographic variable lacking in the current data is race and ethnicity,” Dr. Lewis says. The ABP is working to add race and ethnicity data in the coming years.

The gender of ABP-certified physician from 1934 to 2017


Dr. Christopher OermannDr. Lewis’ colleague, Christopher Oermann, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and pulmonologist at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, also has found ways to use the data provided through the interactive dashboards to help inform key decision-makers.

As president-elect of the Pediatric Pulmonology Division Directors Association (PPDDA), Dr. Oermann is no stranger to geographic and diversity obstacles.

Dr. Oermann presented at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference in the fall of 2018, using the ABP dashboards to highlight specific gaps in the subspecialty.

“I used a lot of the figures from the dashboards, like geographic distribution of pediatric pulmonologists and the static nature of applications compared to other subspecialties,” he says. “It was extraordinarily helpful.”

Sample of data on a U.S. map

Dr. Oermann says he also is looking forward to presenting data through the ABP dashboards at future conferences, including a workforce summit at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in 2019. The group, which will include executive committees from the PPDDA and the Pediatric Pulmonary Training Directors Association, plans to analyze workforce issues within the pediatric pulmonology community. The ABP dashboards will provide important data to the summit to give insight for decisions.

“The Board data are really key in understanding what’s going on,” Oermann says. “What I hope to do is take these data to the summit and have the combined groups, which includes most of the stakeholders in pediatric pulmonary medicine, discuss the data and come up with a planned solution to address some of the issues that are identified. There are huge areas of the country that are just horrifically underserved, and we need to address it.”

While there are already 15 different ways to explore a number of data sets, the ABP also is pursuing even more data sets for future releases, including key survey information on the practice of pediatrics, more granular geographic distribution information, and data on race and ethnicity.

Please send us your suggestions for the ABP’s workforce data dashboards by emailing And visit our Workforce page for these and other data visualizations.