Fewer U.S. Physicians Training in Pediatric Neurosurgery

June 6, 2008

Very few physicians are training and becoming certified in pediatric neurosurgery, suggesting an upcoming crisis in the workforce of this subspecialty that may put children at risk, according to a report in the June issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics.

FRIDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Very few physicians are training and becoming certified in pediatric neurosurgery, suggesting an upcoming crisis in the workforce of this subspecialty that may put children at risk, according to a report in the June issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics.

Susan R. Durham, M.D., and Scott A. Shipman, M.D., from Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., reviewed data from 143 individuals from all 22 Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgical Fellowship programs from 1992-2006 to identify predictors of American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery (ABPNS) certification.

The researchers found that 49 percent of fellows were currently ABPNS certified, which increased to 66.3 percent if the 57 more-recent graduates who would not yet be expected to be sitting for the boards were excluded. There was a mean of 5.1 years (ranging from two to 13 years) between finishing the fellowship and becoming certified. An average of 9.5 fellows were trained each year.

"Although the present training infrastructure has the theoretical capacity to train more than 20 pediatric neurosurgeons each year, this analysis suggests that current levels will provide about six ABPNS-certified pediatric neurosurgeons annually," Durham and Shipman conclude. "Pediatric neurosurgery may be nearing a crisis in its ability to train and retain the future pediatric neurosurgical workforce. This may leave the future neurological care of our nation's children at risk."

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