UNC releases study projecting future Urologist work force shortage

MAY 05, 2013

By: Urology Times staff

Researchers are predicting that the number of urologists in the United States will fall sharply over the next 12 years, dropping by 29% by 2025 compared to 2009. The decline could boost mortality rates from several types of cancer and leave rural areas especially vulnerable to a shortage of urologic surgeons.

"The demand is going to go up, and there aren’t going to be enough of us," Raj S. Pruthi, MD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Urology Times. Dr. Pruthi is lead author of a study on the future supply of urologists released Sunday.

This will be good for existing urologists as they face greater demand for their services, Dr. Pruthi said. But in the big picture, he said, the urologist shortage threatens effective health care in the United States.

Dr. Pruthi and colleagues project a 29% decrease in the number of urologists from 2009-2025 and a 25% dip in full-time equivalent positions.

The study authors recalculated their projections to take into account possible increases in physicians due to proposals, such as federal legislation, to increase the number of doctors in the pipeline. But the projections barely changed.

What to do? Jed Ferguson, MD, a study co-author also from the University of North Carolina, said a variety of strategies are needed, including more funding for urologist training, increased use of non-physician providers, and more urology-related care by primary care providers.

Dr. Pruthi said the researchers will next try to adjust their projections to take into account the work habits of female urologists (whose numbers are on the rise) and young urologists from the millennial generation. Members of these groups tend to have different views about the work-life balance than other urologists, he said, and that can affect the amount of patient care that they're willing to take on.