Research Outline

Independent Health Practitioners


To determine the number of accredited independent health practitioners in the US, Canada, and the UK, broken out by type. At a minimum, the types to be included are health coaches, MDs, DOs, ND/NMD, health PhDs, and DCs.

Early Findings

United States

  • In the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists about 50 healthcare occupations. It is likely that not all of these require accreditation.
  • According to US government data, there are 35,010 chiropractors; 9,770 podiatrists; 31,010 anesthesiologists; 109,370 family medicine physicians; 44,610 general internal medicine physicians; 18,620 OBGYNs; 29,740 pediatricians; 390,680 other physicians; and 36,270 surgeons. This data was not broken out by the type of degree/accreditation.
  • According to the American Board of Medical Specialties, they certify over 900,000 physicians in the US.
  • According to a 2018 survey conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA), 54% of US physicians work in wholly physician owned practices; 45.9% of physicians have an ownership stake in their practice, 47.4% were employees, and 7% were independent contractors.
  • Another 2018 survey titled "2018 Survey of America's Physicians," found that "31.4 percent of physicians identified as independent practice owners or partners." Another 49.1% "identified as hospital or medical group employees."


  • "In 2019, there were 91,375 physicians in Canada..."
  • This data only broke out physician data into those in family medicine versus specialists, and in 2018 physicians were pretty evenly split between the two types.

Summary of Findings

  • While some employment data on physicians in the US was found in the initial research, the source did not break it down by the type of degree (MD vs DO vs DC), but instead by the various types of physicians.
  • Additionally, we found general data on the percentage of US physicians who are independent, but not broken down by type of doctor. However, if we assumed the percentage was consistent across physician type, we could use this data combined with employment data to calculate estimates for each physician type.
  • We found general employment numbers for physicians in Canada, but not breakout by degree type or type of physician. This may be available with further research. We also did not find any data in the initial search that indicated what percentage of Canadian doctors are independent, and it is unclear if it will be available with further research.
  • There was not time to address the UK in the initial research.
  • We also did not have time to address accredited coaches in any of the three locations. However, we did find a research report from 2017 that indicated that the first national recognized board certification for health coaches was being established. This could make it difficult to determine how many coaches are actually accredited.
  • Based on our initial findings, we propose finding the number of physicians by practice type will likely be more doable than by type of accreditation. This is mainly because the main organization for medical accreditation in the US, the American Board of Medical Specialties, does not appear to make numbers of doctors by accreditation publicly available.