Predicting the need for vascular surgeons in Canada

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With the introduction of direct entry (0+5) residency programs in addition to the traditional (5+2) programs, the number of vascular surgery graduates across Canada is expected to increase significantly during the next 5 to 10 years. Society's need for these newly qualified surgeons is unclear. This study evaluated the predicted requirement for vascular surgeons across Canada to 2021. A program director survey was also performed to evaluate program directors' perceptions of the 0+5 residency program, the expected number of new trainees, and faculty recruitment and retirement.


The estimated and projected Canadian population numbers for each year between 2013 and 2021 were determined by the Canadian Socio-economic Information and Management System (CANSIM), Statistics Canada's key socioeconomic database. The number of vascular surgery procedures performed from 2008 to 2012 stratified by age, gender, and province was obtained from the Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstract Database. The future need for vascular surgeons was calculated by two validated methods: (1) population analysis and (2) workload analysis. In addition, a 12-question survey was sent to each vascular surgery program director in Canada.


The estimated Canadian population in 2013 was 35.15 million, and there were 212 vascular surgeons performing a total of 98,339 procedures. The projected Canadian population by 2021 is expected to be 38.41 million, a 9.2% increase from 2013; however, the expected growth rate in the age group 60+ years, who are more likely to require vascular procedures, is expected to be 30% vs 3.4% in the age group <60 years. Using population analysis modeling, there will be a surplus of 10 vascular surgeons in Canada by 2021; however, using workload analysis modeling (which accounts for the more rapid growth and larger proportion of procedures performed in the 60+ age group), there will be a deficit of 11 vascular surgeons by 2021. Program directors in Canada have a positive outlook on graduating 0+5 residents' skill, and the majority of programs will be recruiting at least one new vascular surgeon during the next 5 years.


Although population analysis projects a potential surplus of surgeons, workload analysis predicts a deficit of surgeons because it accounts for the rapid growth in the 60+ age group in which the majority of procedures are performed, thus more accurately modeling future need for vascular surgeons. This study suggests that there will be a need for newly graduating vascular surgeons in the next 5 years, which could have an impact on resource allocation across training programs in Canada.

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