Posts Tagged ‘radiation oncology’

Shortage of Radiation Oncologists Could Impact Cancer Patients

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Demand for radiation oncologists will outstrip supply by a factor of 10 over the next decade.  The U.S. medical community is experiencing a shortage of radiation oncologists, with demand outpacing supply by a factor of 10 over the next decade. According to a report published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology. the number of radiation oncologists joining the workforce over the next decade is expected to rise by just two percent.  During the same timeframe, the number of patients diagnosed with cancers requiring radiation therapy will rise by 22 percent, notes Dr. Benjamin Smith of the Department of Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Adults aged 65 and older are expected to comprise 38 percent of the demand for radiology services over the next 10 years; minorities will comprise 45 percent of the demand, according to the report.  A major point of the report is that cancers need to be treated with radiation therapy as quickly as possible to reduce the size of the tumor and avoid growth.  Patients who have to wait longer for a limited number of radiation oncologists will have delayed appointments.  “Shortages mean double trouble,” Smith said.  “Since research has shown that a delay between diagnosis and the start of radiation therapy can reduce its effectiveness, oncologists and radiologists must collaborate even more so the quality of care doesn’t break down at multiple points.”

According to the report, the researchers estimated demand for radiation therapy by multiplying current use against population growth projections and current use.  Smith suggests three strategies that could make up for some of the slack.  One is to have physician’s assistants and advanced practice registered nurses help doctors increase the number of patients who can be treated at a single time.  Another is to cut the number of radiation therapy treatments, which can be equally effective as longer courses.  Smith’s third recommendation is to increase the size of residency programs to educate more radiation oncologists.

Overall Physician Compensation Levels Fell in 2009

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

The bad economy cuts into 2009 physicians’ paychecks.  Doctors’ salaries fell slightly in 2009, according to the 17th annual Physician Compensation Survey compiled by Modern Healthcare magazine.

The most recent survey tracked 23 specialties and determined that only five had average pay increases higher than the 2.7 percent inflation rate calculated by the Consumer Price Index.  These were dermatology, which rose 5.3 percent; pediatrics, which rose 4.5 percent; neurology and pathology, which rose 3.3 percent; and hospital medicine, which rose 2.8 percent.  Orthopedic surgeons topped out the compensation list with their average pay climbing 1.9 percent to $485,297.

Eight specialties saw slight decreases.  Plastic surgery was down 3.3 percent to $376,849; gastroenterology was down 2.8 percent to $409,628; intensive medicine was down 1.7 percent to $257,797; radiation oncology was down 1.7 percent to $420,661; urology was down 1.4 percent to $391,406; emergency medicine was down 1.1 percent to $266,826; invasive cardiology was down 0.9 percent to $450,016; and noninvasive cardiology was down 0.9 percent to $393,181.

According to William Jessee, M.D., president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association, “Clearly, there had to be some impact from the economy.  Actually, I was pleased the numbers were as good as they were given the recession.  Certainly, it showed a comeback in the second half of 2009.”  A pediatrician, Jessee, added that primary-care physicians saw their pay rise by 2.8 percent last year, which he views as part of an effort to attract more medical school graduates to that specialty.  He warns against over-reacting to the data.  “Keep in mind the increase is not anything to write home about – 2.8 percent is not a windfall,” Jessee said.