The Impending Shortage and the Estimated Cost of Training the Future Surgical Workforce

The Impending Shortage and the Estimated Cost of Training

Thomas E. Williams, Jr., MD, PhD, FACS; Bhagwan Satiani, MD, MBA, FACS; Andrew Thomas, MD, MBA; E. Christopher Ellison, MD, FACS


Annals of Surgery. 2009;250(4):590-597. 

In This Article


American Surgery needs to find a way to attract young medical school graduates, particularly women,[38] into the surgical specialties and keep them working longer, convince the Congress and the public of the wisdom of investing into the future by funding graduate medical education or come up with an alternative strategy to support more surgical trainees.

A population-based analysis demonstrates shortages in 7 surgical specialties in the next 20 years. The estimate is likely to be on the low side for reasons cited in the discussion. It is presumed that these shortages will further limit access (and potentially rationing) of surgical care for a growing and aging population. To increase the number of training positions available to train the future surgical workforce will add an incremental cost of $10.104 Billion. This estimate is likely on the low side as it does not include IME. Even so this seems like a modest investment given today's world of trillion dollar deficits. Increasing job sharing opportunities for retirees may reduce early retirement and burnout and provide a boost to the work force. In the final assessment, the solution will result from a combination of initiatives including an increase in the number of surgeons and exploration of improved care models for surgical patients.


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