Twenty-one of 144 residencies for cardiothoracic surgery -- or about 15% -- haven't been filled for 2003, the National Residency Matching Program said. Combined with the projected retirement of current heart surgeons and a surge in the elderly population, the decline in cardiothoracic surgery residents could portend a serious shortage of heart surgeons in the future, the Society for Thoracic Surgeons said. Some young doctors have turned away from the specialty because of reimbursement concerns, as well as the specialty's difficulty, officials said. "While there are other factors, prominent in the minds of young physicians considering cardiothoracic surgery are the sharp reductions made by Medicare in the allowed fees for these procedures," said Kevin Accola, M.D., a cardiac surgeon from Orlando, Fla., who chairs the society's Workforce on Health Policy. -- by Michael Romano
Openings may herald heart surgeon shortage
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