Background: The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) formed the Plastic Surgery Workforce Task Force to study the size of the plastic surgery workforce and make recommendations about future workforce needs. The ASPS member workforce survey and two supplementary surveys of plastic surgery academic chairs and senior residents were developed to gain insights on current and projected demand for plastic surgery procedures and to find out more about plastic surgeons' current daily practice patterns and plans for the future.
Methods: The ASPS member workforce survey was mailed to 2500 randomly selected ASPS active members practicing in the United States, and a second mailing was sent to 388 unique members who practice in an academic setting; a total of 1256 surgeons responded (43.5 percent response rate). The survey of academic chairs was distributed to 103 attendees at the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Chairmen of Plastic Surgery, and 74 returned the survey (71.8 percent response rate). The survey of senior residents was e-mailed to 183 graduating residents, of whom 65 responded (35.5 percent response rate).
Results: Useful demographic information regarding the current plastic surgery workforce was obtained from these surveys. In addition, insight into current trends in practice composition and procedural demand was gained.
Conclusions: The rapid growth of the U.S. population, combined with a significant number of plastic surgeons approaching retirement and an unchanged number of plastic surgery residency training positions, will lead to a discrepancy between the demand for plastic surgery procedures and the supply of appropriately trained physicians. Without an increase in the number of plastic surgeons trained each year, there will be a significant shortage in the next 10 to 15 years.