Six-Year Follow-Up on Work Force and Finances of the United States Anesthesiology Training Programs: 2000 to 2006

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BACKGROUND:In the mid 1990s, interest in the field of anesthesiology decreased significantly among medical students, resulting in a decreasing resident class size and, subsequently, fewer anesthesiologists entering the United States workforce. This apparent practitioner shortage was associated with increased salary demands, which placed anesthesiology training departments in financial jeopardy. Starting in 1999, a survey was sent to the department chairs of the United States anesthesiology training programs to assess the status of faculty and finances of their departments. Follow-up surveys have been conducted each year thereafter. We present the results of the 2006 survey and 7 yr trend data.METHODS:Surveys were distributed by e-mail in September 2006 to anesthesiology department chairs of the United States training programs. The responses were received by e-mail. Descriptive statistics were performed on responder data. In addition, a linear regression model to predict institutional support was developed.RESULTS:One-hundred-eighteen departments were surveyed with a response rate of 61%. There were an average of 4 open faculty positions in the 71% of the departments reporting open faculty positions. This would imply an overall 5% open position rate, down from 10% in 2000. Of the 96% of departments who employ certified registered nurse anesthetists, 70% had an average of 4 open positions, or approximately 11% shortage. The average department received $5,500,000 in total institutional support annually ($120,000/faculty). When the portion of this support provided for certified registered nurse anesthetists was removed, the average amount received was $4,600,000 or $100,000/faculty. This is a 10% increase over the previous year and an approximate 300% increase over the year 2000. Faculty academic time averaged 18% (where 20% is 1 day per week). The departments billed an average of 12,200 U/faculty/year. The average anesthesia unit value collected was $31/unit, while departments would require $46/unit to meet expenses. In a linear regression model, clinical revenue per unit billed minus expenses per unit billed predicted faculty support per fulltime equivalent.CONCLUSION:This current survey reveals a continuing need for institutional support to keep anesthesiology training departments financially solvent. The amount of support is associated with the reimbursement for anesthesia work. There is also a continuing, but decreasing, number of open faculty anesthesiologist positions nationwide.

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