Background: We aimed to predict practicing surgeon workforce size across ten specialties to provide an up-to-date, national perspective on future surgical workforce shortages or surpluses.
Methods: Twenty-one years of AMA Masterfile data (1997-2017) were used to predict surgeons practicing from 2030 to 2050. Published ratios of surgeons/100,000 population were used to estimate the number of surgeons needed. MGMA median wRVU/surgeon by specialty (2017) was used to determine wRVU demand and capacity based on projected and needed number of surgeons.
Results: By 2030, surgeon shortages across nine specialties: Cardiothoracic, Otolaryngology, General Surgery, Obstetrics-Gynecology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Plastics, Urology, and Vascular, are estimated to increase clinical workload by 10-50% additional wRVU. By 2050, shortages in eight specialties are estimated to increase clinical workload by 7-61% additional wRVU.
Conclusions: If historical trends continue, a majority of surgical specialties are estimated to experience workforce deficits, increasing clinical demands substantially.