At one time, being a cardiothoracic surgeon was one of the highest-status specialties a physician could practice--and many students responded by taking up the arduous training needed to become one. Today, however, it seems that status alone isn't enough. Increasingly, surgeons-in-training are refusing to undergo the 12-year training program needed to become a cardiothoracic specialist. Students are afraid they won't be able to pay back the huge student loans needed to fund this training, particularly given falling reimbursement rates for common procedures like coronary artery bypasses. Now, as older surgeons retire, the overall number of cardiothoracic specialists in the U.S. is falling, despite an overall trend in which specialist volume has increased 60 percent. To address the problem, legislators are proposing a variety of subsidies which would defray or cover the cost of medical education for underserved specialties.
To find out more about this trend:
- read this United Press International article