Demographic Trends From 2005 to 2015 Among Physicians With Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-Accredited Anesthesiology Training and Active Medical Licenses

Yan Zhou, Huaping Sun, Ting Wang, Ann E Harman, Mark T Keegan, Alex Macario, Mohammed M Minhaj, Humayun J Chaudhry, Aaron Young, David O Warner
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2021 January 7

BACKGROUND: A temporary decrease in anesthesiology residency graduates that occurred around the turn of the millennium may have workforce implications. The aims of this study are to describe, between 2005 and 2015, (1) demographic changes in the workforce of physicians trained as anesthesiologists; (2) national and state densities of these physicians, as well as temporal changes in the densities; and (3) retention of medical licenses by mid- and later-career anesthesiologists.

METHODS: Using records from the American Board of Anesthesiology and state medical and osteopathic boards, the numbers of licensed physicians aged 30-59 years who had completed Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited anesthesiology residency training were calculated cross-sectionally for 2005, 2010, and 2015. Demographic trends were then described. Census data were used to calculate national and state densities of licensed physicians. Individual longitudinal data were used to describe retention of medical licenses among older physicians.

RESULTS: The number of licensed physicians trained as anesthesiologists aged 30-59 years increased from 32,644 in 2005 to 36,543 in 2010 and 36,624 in 2015, representing a national density of 1.10, 1.18, and 1.14 per 10,000 population in those years, respectively. The density of anesthesiologists among states ranged from 0.37 to 3.10 per 10,000 population. The age distribution differed across the years. For example, anesthesiologists aged 40-49 years predominated in 2005 (47%), but by 2015, only 31% of anesthesiologists were aged 40-49 years. The proportion of female anesthesiologists grew from 22% in 2005, to 24% in 2010, and to 28% in 2015, particularly among early-career anesthesiologists. For anesthesiologists with licenses in 2005, the number who still had active licenses in 2015 decreased by 9.6% for those aged 45-49 years, by 14.1% for those aged 50-54 years, and by 19.7% for those aged 55-59 years.

CONCLUSIONS: The temporary decrease in anesthesiology residency graduates around the turn of the 21st century decreased the proportion of anesthesiologists who were midcareer as of 2015. This may affect the future availability of senior leaders as well as the future overall workforce in the specialty as older anesthesiologists retire. National efforts to plan for workforce needs should recognize the geographical variability in the distribution of anesthesiologists.

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