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AAMC: Residency Programs Not Equipped to Address Shortage

Last Updated: May 14, 2010.

Residency programs in the United States do not have the capacity to adequately deal with the growing shortage of general surgeons, according to research presented at the Sixth Annual Association of American Medical Colleges' Physician Workforce Research Conference, held from May 6 to 7 in Alexandria, Va.

FRIDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- Residency programs in the United States do not have the capacity to adequately deal with the growing shortage of general surgeons, according to research presented at the Sixth Annual Association of American Medical Colleges' Physician Workforce Research Conference, held from May 6 to 7 in Alexandria, Va.

Anthony G. Charles, M.D., of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted a Web-based survey in November 2009 of residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to assess whether these programs were equipped to address the shortage of general surgeons.

Of the program directors who responded to the survey, the researchers found that 80 percent said they had enough clinical and operative volume to accommodate an average increase of 1.9 residents a year. Based on this response, the researchers estimate the number of residency slots could be increased so that 1,515 general surgery residents could be trained annually, representing a 33 percent increase over the current approved 1,137 chief resident slots. The authors further estimate it would take five years or more for this change to affect the shortage issue.

"Even if we expand our current residency programs to full capacity, new programs and new models for surgical training will be needed, as will increased Medicare graduate medical education funding if we are to produce enough new general surgeons to address the shortage," Charles said in a statement.

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