Ranks of cardiothoracic surgeons to hit critical lows by 2035

If the rate at which cardiothoracic surgeons are trained and certified does not increase, the nation will experience a critical shortage of these specialty physicians, according to an analysis presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. 

Researchers from Columbus-based Ohio State University estimate each CT surgeon in 2035 will face a 121 percent increase in caseload, due to the growing population of people over age 65. "We feel this is not feasible and a sign of a problem that must be addressed head on," the researchers wrote. 

To determine the magnitude of the cardiothoracic surgeon shortage, the researchers used 2010 caseloads for CT surgeons and rates of lung cancer, esophageal surgery and heart surgery. Using population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, these numbers were extrapolated to estimate the expected caseload in 2035. They found roughly 4,000 CT surgeons in 2010 completed an average of 135 cases each. Keeping in mind CT residency programs train and certify an average of 90 new surgeons annually, they found CT surgeons' individual caseloads would grow to 299 annually by 2035. 


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