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Book and Media Reviews
April 28, 2010

The Coming Shortage of Surgeons: Why They Are Disappearing and What That Means for Our Health

JAMA. 2010;303(16):1651-1652. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.501

In this informative and well-written text, the authors, all surgeons, provide a detailed analysis of the future calculated shortage of physicians in many areas of surgery including orthopedic surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, otolaryngology, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, neurosurgery, and urology. The Coming Shortage of Surgeons delineates the future shortage based on constraints to supply, including the long and arduous training of surgical residency, the changing demographics of the surgical workforce, the recent substantial increases in student debt, the decreasing reimbursements for surgeons, and the substantial medical malpractice problem in the United States. Other factors discussed are controllable lifestyle requirements, geographic considerations, rates of retirement, the willingness of medical students to choose a career in one of the surgical specialties, and the effect of the 80-hour work week on surgery as a profession.

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