San Diego, CA, May 3,2013 – The number of urologists is projected to decrease by nearly 30 percent through the year 2025, while the rapidly aging population and influx of uninsured patients is projected to dramatically increase demand, according to a new study being presented at the 108thAnnual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA). This study will be shared with reporters on May 5 at 10:15 a.m. PDT during a press conference at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA.
The United States Census projects by the year 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will be 88.5 million, double the 40.2 million Americans in the same age group in the year 2010.However, several factors including threats to the graduate medical education fund, a decline in the number of American Board of Medical Specialties urology certifications and an increase in the number of surgeons nearing retirement age, make it evident the demand for urologic specialists will quickly outpace supply. In fact, researchers estimate even if residency slots were to increase by 15 percent, the anticipated retirement and/or attrition rates would still outpace the number of available positions, resulting in a 28 percent overall reduction of urologists in the workforce.
This trend could potentially affect mortality rates, as research has demonstrated an association between a higher density of urologists in a defined area and lower mortality from prostate, bladder, and kidney cancer. Research also shows rural areas will be hardest hit as the population of urologists in these areas is closer to retirement age. Further, as the supply of urologists decreases, there may also be a decrease in access to cancer screening and medical and surgical treatment for urologic conditions.
“Despite an increase in the demand for urologists as the American population ages, researchers project a dramatic decrease in the number of urologists needed due to various reasons including a lack of graduate medical education funding, an aging urologic workforce nearing retirement, and a shortage of academic urologists needed to train urology residents,” said AUA Health Policy Vice Chair Dr. Chris Gonzalez, session moderator. “These trends could have a significant impact on the millions of individuals who may require urological care in the future and it is our hope that this and other recent studies focused on the urologic workforce shortage bring these crucial issues to the forefront.”
Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill used stock and flow models, starting with the supply of urologists in 2009. They added new entrants and subtracted attrition from training and from the workforce due to retirement or breaks from practice.
- An estimated 29 percent head count reduction and a 25 percent decrease in full-time equivalent (FTE) supply of urologists between 2009 and 2025.
- This is more rapid decrease in FTE than shown in previous models, including the HRSA’s Physician Supply Model, which estimated a seven percent decrease over the same period.
- None of the proposed changes to graduate medical education (GME) (recommendations from the Council of Graduate Medical Education’s 16th report or a recent proposal to Congress) will increase GME enough to offset the projected decline in head count.
Overall, the findings of this study indicate the supply of urologists will decrease and there may be impacts on patient mortality and access to preventive services and treatment.
NOTE TO REPORTERS: Experts are available to discuss this study outside normal briefing times. To arrange an interview with an expert, please contact the AUA Communications Office at the number above or e-mail Communications@AUAnet.org.
About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is a leading advocate for the specialty of urology, and has more than 19,000 members throughout the world. The AUA is a premier urologic association, providing invaluable support to the urologic community as it pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care through education, research and the formulation of health policy.
Vincent, Grayson K. and Victoria A. Velkoff, 2010, THE NEXT FOUR DECADES, The Older Population in
the United States: 2010 to 2050, Current Population Reports, P25-1138, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC.
Christine Frey, AUA