State of the Plastic Surgery Workforce and the Impact of Graduate Medical Education Reform on Training of Plastic Surgeons
Although recent estimates predict a large impending shortage of plastic surgeons, graduate medical education funding through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services remains capped by the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. The authors’ aim was to develop a plan to stimulate legislative action.Methods:
The authors reviewed responses of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, and American Medical Association from January of 2015 to a House Energy & Commerce Committee request for input on graduate medical education funding. In addition, all program directors in plastic surgery were surveyed through the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons to determine their graduate medical education funding sources.Results:
All three organizations agree that current graduate medical education funding is inadequate to meet workforce needs, and this has a significant impact on specialty selection and distribution for residency training. All agreed that funding should be tied to the resident rather than to the institution, but disagreed on whether funds should be divided between direct (allocated to residency training) and indirect (allocated to patient care) pools, as is currently practiced. Program directors’ survey responses indicated that only 38 percent of graduate medical education funds comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.Conclusions:
Organized medicine is at risk of losing critically needed graduate medical education funding. Specific legislation to support additional graduate medical education positions and funding (House Resolutions 1180 and 4282) has been proposed but has not been universally endorsed, in part because of a lack of collaboration in organized medicine. Collaboration among major organizations can reinvigorate these measures and implement real change in funding.