Sarah Gebauer, M.D.
ASA Monitor 10 2016, Vol.80, 8-9.
Anesthesiologists are uniquely positioned to provide specialist care in pain and symptom management as well as a nuanced perspective of the likely course for critically ill patients. Additionally, the ability to coordinate and balance the often disparate priorities of multiple coworkers, which so routinely occurs in the O.R., is highly valued in many areas of practice. With these valuable skills, anesthesiologists should seriously consider the rapidly growing fields of hospice and palliative medicine (HPM) as career options. According to the Center to Advance Palliative Care, “the number of hospitals with a palliative care team increased from 658 (24.5 percent) to 1,635 (65.7 percent) – a steady 148.5 percent increase from 2000-2010.” Demand for palliative care physicians is expected to continue to increase. A major study anticipated a shortage of 6,000-18,000 individual physicians, depending on the proportion of time each physician would devote to HPM practice. Physicians who are boarded in HPM often quickly secure opportunities in a variety of settings, including inpatient palliative care consult teams, palliative care clinics, home hospice and hospice inpatient facilities. Additionally, the number of fellowship training programs has not kept pace with the increased demand, contributing to a shortage of trained physicians. This means that the combination of a low supply of trained physicians and a high demand for their services will likely continue for the foreseeable future.