Unsurprisingly – rural area hospitals face additional challenges in attracting and retaining specialty surgeons in comparison to big cities/ metropolitan areas. However, as reported by Patrice Welding at Thoracic Surgery News in a report on the annual meeting of the Central Surgical Association, this may be viewed as a boon for the surgeons themselves as hospitals may devise new and enhanced incentives to attract surgeons to their facilities. The surgical specialties most likely to benefit from this strategy include (as previously reported), obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, otolaryngology, urology, neurosurgery, and thoracic surgery.
The article which quotes Dr. Thomas E. Williams, Jr. predicts that hospitals and institutions may break out into a ‘bidding war’ over surgeons.
While this is dire news for rural hospitals and the estimated 56 million patients served by these facilities, it comes as a relief for current thoracic surgery fellows and new thoracic surgeons who have faced an increasingly bleak economic landscape over the last few years.
Of course, more sanguine experts note that the impact of the impending shortage has been reported for several years – with little impact on the current job market for new graduates.
Dr. Thomas E. Williams Jr. is one of the main researchers on the impending shortage in the United States and published a book based on his findings in 2009, entitled, “The coming shortage of surgeons: why they are disappearing and what that means for our health“. (Praeger, ISBN #978-0313380709). His work has also be published in multiple journals, and presented in meetings and conferences across the country.
Williams, T. E & Ellison, E. C. (2008). Population analysis predicts a future critical shortage of general surgeons. Surgery, 144 (4): 548-556, October 2008.