There was a large increase in procedural dermatology positions over a recent 10-year period, according to recent findings; however, this increase coincided with stagnation in dermatopathology.
Because of shortages in the dermatologic workforce reported in recent years, the researchers evaluated trends in dermatology and dermatopathology residency and fellowship programs. They assessed past and current versions of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education for information on residency and fellowship programs in dermatology, along with the number of individuals participating in these programs. Data from the 2006 to 2007 and 2015 to 2016 academic years underwent analysis, as did U.S. Census Bureau population data for 2006 through 2015.
Results showed an increase in dermatology, dermatopathology and procedural dermatology programs between 2006 to 2007 and 2015 to 2016. This coincided with an 8.3% growth in the U.S. population over the same period.
In a population-adjusted analysis, the researchers observed that the number of physicians in procedural dermatology fellowships increased by 119.8%, while those in dermatology residencies increased by 14.4%. These increases outpaced overall graduate medical education growth by 8.7%, according to the findings. Conversely, the population-adjusted analysis showed that dermatopathology fellowships decreased by 1.3%.
The creation or accreditation of additional programs accounted for an 80.3% increase in procedural dermatology fellowship positions, while expanded program sizes accounted for a 72.7% increase in dermatology residency positions, the researchers found.
They added that there have been “striking” differences in the rates of growth of residency and fellowship programs in dermatology. They suggested that changes in reimbursement and Medicare coverage from the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 has impacted residency positions in the U.S., and that these factors may have influenced the current findings with regard to dermatology training capacity.
“The extraordinary expansion of procedural dermatology positions over the study period is consistent with continued interest in Mohs micrographic surgery and cosmetic dermatology among dermatology residents,” they wrote. “The reasons for plateaued growth observed in dermatopathology positions are unclear, and future investigations should elucidate potential factors such as declining reimbursement.” – by Rob Volansky
Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.