More Anesthesiologists Needed

August 27, 2010

According to a study conducted by the RAND Corporation, there is a current shortage of 3,800 anesthesiologists and 1,282 nurse anesthetists.

According to a study conducted by the RAND Corporation, there is a current shortage of 3,800 anesthesiologists and 1,282 nurse anesthetists.

But if current trends continue there will be a dramatic shortage (close to 4,500) of anesthesiologists and a significant surplus of nurse anesthetists (close to 8,000) by 2020.

The study assumes demand for services will grow at a rate of 1.6 percent annually for both positions. If the growth demand is 3% the study projects the shortage of physicians to drop close to 12,500 by the end of the decade, and the surplus of nurse anesthetists to rise close to 15,000 by 2020.

“The projected shortage of anesthesiologists suggests that this country will soon face a gap in anesthesiology services that is just as important to Americans' health as the projected physician gap for primary care services,” said Mark A. Warner, M.D., president-Elect of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, in a press release.

“Health care facilities have indicated that as a growing proportion of their patients become older and sicker, they will need more anesthesiologists providing the full scope of care that patients will need before, during and after their surgeries.”

Other highlights of the study include the information that anesthesiologists’ total work hours are 50% more than nurse anesthetists, and these anesthesiologists provide more services to the nation’s critically ill patients and those with acute and chronic pain.