Note: post updated 26 March 2011
In the middle of all my interviews with bariatric surgeons, plastic surgeons and the other specialities – I am in the midst of chasing down some elusive thoracic surgeons.. (Thoracic surgery is surgery of the chest, and structures of the chest – esophagus, lungs, mediastium).
Why the obsession with Thoracic surgeons, you ask? Well, the answer is two-fold..
For one – it is part of my home specialty, so it’s where I feel the most comfortable – after all, I can read a CT scan of the chest any where in the world, and immediately develop rapport and understanding with whatever surgeon I happen to be speaking to.. It’s not so easy with plastics, ortho or neurosurgery.
But secondly, and most importantly – thoracic surgery in the United States currently has the oldest average practicing surgeons (and is not maintaining adequate volumes for replacement – thoracic surgery programs are facing vacancy rates that would have been unheard of 10 or 15 years ago..) So – in just a few short years – thoracic surgery (and other specialties) may be difficult to find in the United States, so it’s important to establish and maintain international networks..
Thoracic surgery is too specialized and too important to be delegated to general surgeons without the necessary additional training – yet, in the USA, that’s exactly what’s happening in small towns across the country. It is better, AND safer to travel to a board-certified, specialty trained thoracic surgeon than to have an unqualified surgeon..
Average age of US thoracic surgeons: 55 – Report from 2010
This phenomenon of aging surgeons hasn’t gone unnoticed (and it isn’t new) – Report from 2008, AORN
Cardiothoracic Surgeon shortage looms in USA
Also trying to catch up with some busy, busy, busy plastic surgeons; Dr. Alan Gonzales, Dr. Camilo Prieto and Dr. Ivan Santos..(update: see interview with Dr. Ivan Santos).