General surgeon shortage projected to worsen, study finds

The U.S. will see an increased shortage of general surgeons unless there are more resident graduates, according to a study published in Surgery.

For the study, researchers reassessed general surgeon shortage projections from 2008, using updated Census Bureau data and trends in future general surgeon training.

They projected a shortage of 7,047 general surgeons in 2050, after factoring in a projected 2050 U.S. population of 439 million and the 10,173 certificates granted by the American Board of Surgery from 2007-2016.

Their 2050 general surgeon shortage projection fell to 4,917 based on the population estimates for 2050 and the number of general surgery residency completions from 2007-2016.

These projections compare to the general surgeon shortage of 6,000 that researchers projected in 2008 based on population estimates and the number of new general surgeons looking for work back then, Reuters reported.

"Leaders in surgery have predicted a pending shortage in the general surgery workforce for more than 10 years," lead study author E. Christopher Ellison, MD, of the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, told the publication.

"The impact of the general surgeon shortages on patients is measured in the timeliness of care and the consequences of delays in care," he said.

According to the report, researchers said about 7.5 general surgeons per 100,000 people is needed to maintain acceptable surgical care access. They did not calculate the projected general surgeon shortage per 1,000.

Read the full Reuters report about the study here.


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