More general surgeons needed for rural practice

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 20, 2011

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The nation needs a strong strategy to address shortages of general surgeons in rural areas, say preliminary findings from University of Washington School of Medicine researchers.

The number of general surgeons in rural areas declined from six to five for every 100,000 residents from 1981 to 2005, according to an analysis of data from 629 hospitals in 24 states by the university's Washington-Wyoming-Alaska-Montana-Idaho Rural Health Research Center. The report was presented at the Assn. of American Medical Colleges Physician Workforce Conference in May (link).

A growing number of surgeons nearing retirement creates a pressing need to train surgeons with skills needed for rural practice. In 2005, 52% of general surgeons in rural areas were age 50 to 62.

More young general surgeons also are choosing to specialize in areas such as orthopedics and "may not be comfortable performing the broad range of procedures required of many rural surgeons," the report said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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