Anesthesiologist shortage made worse by physician retirements

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 5, 2012

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Anesthesiology shortages will be exacerbated as older physicians retire, reduce their hours or leave clinical care, says a study in the November issue of Anesthesiology.

A survey of 3,222 U.S. anesthesiologists ages 50 to 79 found that they work an average 49.4 hours per week, and one in six works part time. Most anesthesiologists retire before age 65, said the study (link).

Thirty percent work past age 65, 18% work past age 70, and 10% work at age 80. Older respondents were less likely to provide clinical care and more likely to work part time.

Reasons for leaving practice varied. For example, pain management and critical care subspecialists cited loss of clinical autonomy as a major factor. Most anesthesiologists who left clinical practice in their 50s cited poor health.

“In designing interventions to retain practitioners in the work force, initiatives may need to be age-specific or perhaps even subspecialist-specific,” said lead author Fredrick K. Orkin, MD, an adjunct professor at Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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