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Factors affecting supply and demand of anesthesiologists in Western Europe.

Egger Halbeis CB, Macario A

Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5640, USA. cbeh@stanford.edu

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Current demographic and macroeconomic trends indicate that, in Western Europe, the demand for anesthesia services will continue to increase. It is, however, questionable whether there will be sufficient supply. RECENT FINDINGS: In Western Europe, admission to medical schools is typically restricted. The European Working Time Directive has decreased the clinical exposure of residents. Also, increasing feminization of the physician workforce and the aging of current practitioners may change the available workforce. Current healthcare reforms that include demand-lowering elements may also negatively affect supply and demand for anesthesiologists. SUMMARY: Steps must be taken to augment the number of practitioners to ensure a sufficient number of anesthesiologists. Employers will have to offer flexible working practices and adequate compensation to attract new anesthesiologists. Alternatively, more responsibilities and tasks may be allocated to well-trained anesthesia assistants (e.g. nurses). National anesthesia associations must improve and coordinate resident training, which may alleviate the recruitment problem. A European training standard in anesthesia might adjust the regional disequilibrium of supply and demand, as might salary competition. In the long run, the undersupply of anesthesiologists may be offset by factors such as more procedures being performed non-invasively and further demand-lowering healthcare policies.

Published 22 March 2006 in Curr Opin Anaesthesiol, 19(2): 207-12.
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