Monday, March 28, 2022

The ASA Wants To Help You Get Into Anesthesia

The president of the ASA, Randall Clark, MD, FASA, praised in his Monday Morning Outreach newsletter the highly successful anesthesia match that just took place. As I previously mentioned, 99.9% of the anesthesia PGY1 residency spots were taken. It is one of the highest fill rate of any medical field. 

It seems that the ASA and Dr. Clark have a problem with that. He noted that thousands of applicants did not get into anesthesia residency. In fact, 59% of anesthesia applicants were left on the sidelines in 2022 when they were denied entry into a training program. Their simple solution is to expand the number of programs and spots available to accommodate the high demand. They plan on having a Workforce Summit meeting in June to discuss this possibility.

I am dubious about this idea. Anesthesia residencies have already greatly expanded in the last five years. In 2018 there were only 1,253 PGY1 spots available. This year, there were over 1,500. Other highly competitive residencies are not expanding at the rate that they could. Orthopedic surgery has grown from 742 in 2018 to 845 today. ENT from 316 to 361. Diagnostic radiology PGY2 from 944 to 997. Any of these specialties could easily have more residents if they choose to. Yet I don't hear orthopedic surgeons wringing their hands worrying about not having enough of their own graduating every year. Instead, they relish the exclusivity of their field, to the point of being a national scandal

The ASA's plan to flood the market with anesthesiologists is only good for the ASA. It helps them fight off the encroachment of CRNA's with a legion of anesthesiologists desperately looking for a good job. It also fills their coffers with the millions of dollars in annual dues, conference fees, and CME paid by members each year. Is the ASA really looking after their own, or just stuffing its treasury on the backs of hard working anesthesiologists?

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