Cardiothoracic surgery residencies go unfilled

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The number of applicants for cardiothoracic surgery residency positions fell short of those needed for the fifth consecutive year, according to the results of the 2008 National Residency Match Program (NRMP), released June 11 by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS).

The society said that only 94 of 118 heart and lung surgery residency positions will be filled based on this year’s NRMP. The dwindling supply of heart and lung surgeons means that Americans with heart disease and lung cancer will soon face a giant hurdle in access to care and, most likely, life-threatening postponements of surgeries, the STS said.

“We are suffering from a ‘brain drain’ of increasingly dangerous proportions,” said STS President W. Randolph Chitwood, Jr., MD. “Heart and lung surgeons are starting to retire, and there aren’t enough new-generation surgeons to replace them – that could mean compromised patient care in the very near future.”

Exacerbating the problem is an aging baby boomer population and uncertain outcomes with percutaneous stents, the STS reported.