Growing general surgeon shortage scares the medical community
What factors are important to quality of life? Having a solid roof over one’s head, access to a good job, personal security and a well-administered healthcare system which grants easy access to good quality care. If digital transformation of the healthcare system is important for the industry, nothing can be accomplished without the right specialists working in that system.
Access to the right medical specialists is among the deciding factors when choosing where to live in the U.S.
Big cities usually win, in spite of the hectic life pace and high stress levels, because they have the best trained doctors and the best medical facilities.
Rural and remote areas are continuously experiencing depopulation, in part because they can’t always offer good quality medical care.
Graduates usually prefer clinical hospitals where they can further their training; these are nearly always situated in big cities or their environs.
Roughly a quarter of all U.S. practicing doctors are foreign trained. Recent changes to visa-controlled employment for foreign workers may also have an negative impact that could deepen the surgeon shortage, if the way surgeons are trained does not alter.
Another important factor is that baby-boomers comprise the population segment most affected by Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. These patients include a large number of doctors.
Physicians grow old, retire, and themselves acquire an increased need for medical care, just like the rest of the population. This course of events is growing even worse because new graduates are not filling the gaps left by retirement quickly enough. One in three practicing physicians in the U.S. is over the age of 65 and close to retirement.
Surgeons rank third among all specialists in the U.S healthcare system, with 51,927 people in 2018, according to statistica, They follow psychiatrists with 53,678 nationwide and emergency medicine, with 53,018.
One has to keep in mind, however, that the data about the general surgeon shortage commonly uses the ratio of general surgeons per 100,000 people. This method might not be the best one to use when determining whether a general surgeon is needed, especially when comparing urban to rural areas.
By whatever measurement method one uses, it is clear that the surgeon shortage is real. Predictions about the shortage made ten years ago have changed for the worse. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, general surgery is probably going to be among the hardest hit, with a shortage of 21,400 surgeons anticipated by 2020.
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