With an aging population requiring more medical services and a majority of Americans with insurance coverage, anesthesiology remains a popular specialty. There continues to be a large and still-growing demand for medical care to serve this burgeoning population of older patients and this includes a range of anesthesia services and anesthesia specialists.
However, the age factor contributing to the demand for anesthesiology professionals isn’t just the patients, it includes the aging of providers.
A recent study by the Association of American Medical Colleges, “The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2017-2032,” predicts a shortage of 21,100 to 55,200 primary care physicians and 24,800 to 65,800 specialists, including 14,300 to 23,400 surgical specialists, by 2032. By then, the U.S. population that is over 65 years of age is expected to increase by 48%. At the same time, an estimated 40% of physicians will be over 65.
Among anesthesiologists, baby boomers (born 1946-1964) dominate, representing 37.6% of active members of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). Of the approximately 32,000 board-certified anesthesiologists in practice today, about 56% are over age 55, and 80% are over 45.
CareerExplorer rates anesthesiologists with a C employability rating, meaning this career should provide “moderate” employment opportunities for the foreseeable future with the anesthesiologist job market expected to grow by 15.5% between 2016 and 2026. They did say however that evolving technology may allow for treatment of previously untreatable conditions and consequently increase both the number of surgeries and the number of employment opportunities for anesthesiologists.
Having taken on responsibility for some types of sedation outside the OR, anesthesiologists are practicing in more types of locations, including gastrointestinal/endoscopy labs, cardiac catheterization labs and radiology suites, said Adam Blomberg, MD, FASA, the national education director and regional medical director of anesthesiology for Envision Physician Services. That expansion, across hospitals, micro-hospitals, freestanding emergency rooms, ambulatory surgery centers and office-based practices, amplifies the number of clinicians needed to cover all the anesthetizing sites and satisfy their facilities.
Attracting Top Talent
The health care delivery system and anesthesia market is in a constant state of flux. It’s not so much that recruiting anesthesiologists is becoming more difficult, but rather that recruiting is changing, said David Brandeberry, the clinical recruitment manager at Envision Physician Services. The shift to value-based care and rapid advancements in medical and health information technology, from electronic health record systems to artificial intelligence, are among the hallmarks of that evolving landscape.
To compete successfully, anesthesia medical groups “must be adaptable and understand the skills and experiences candidates need to deliver quality care in an ever-changing environment as well as how to recruit the right candidate for each position,” Brandeberry said.
In the current market, Envision’s Dr. Blomberg feels that adaptability may involve a willingness to factor flexible scheduling into job offers. Job candidates will want more defined work shifts because they will want the work-life balance that helps protect against overwork and burnout.
Giving consideration to quality of life can take many forms. “Everyone has different objectives and interpretations of work-life balance,” Brandeberry said. “Some clinicians may look for practices that provide access to a variety of continuing medical education programs and offer resources that lessen administrative burdens. Others may seek opportunities to volunteer, travel, relocate or participate in advocacy.”
Anesthesia medical groups are continuously working on evolving best practices to meet their growing staffing needs with anesthesia specialists who are a good clinical and cultural fit.
Looming Anesthesiologist Shortage Fuels High Market Demand. anesthesiologynews.com
The Employment Outlook in Anesthesiology for 2019. locumleaders.com
The Job Market for Anesthesiologists in the United States. careerexplorer.com