Trends in the Neurosurgical Workforce and Implications in Providing for an Aging Population

Rohin Singh, Parth P. Parikh, Nicole M. De La Peña, Archis R. Bhandarkar, Matthew K. Doan, Naresh P. Patel, Fredric B. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The United States is projected to face increasing physician-workforce shortages. However, the shortage in the neurosurgical workforce has not yet been characterized. In the present study, we outlined the current state of the neurosurgical workforce by quantifying the divide between the number of practicing neurosurgeons and the U.S. population. Methods: The Medicare Physician National Medicare database was queried from 2014 to 2019 to obtain the numbers of practicing neurosurgeons, which were compared with the population counts from the U.S. Census data. Results: From 2014 to 2019, the total increase in neurosurgeons per capita was 9.4%. The Northeast neurosurgeons per capita rate (NPCR) increased by 17.1%, the South NPCR by 3.4%, the Midwest NPCR by 13.3%, and the West NPCR by 12.5%. In all regions, except for the West, the surgeon per capita ratio had decreased from 2017 to 2019. The greatest increase in the number of surgeons was 2018 to 2019 (n = 214). In 2014, the states with the lowest NPCRs were Vermont, Arkansas, and New Mexico. In 2019, these included Nevada, New Mexico, and Vermont. As of 2020, 56.6% of the neurosurgeons had practiced for >20 years. Conclusions: Although the national NPCR has slowly increased during the past 5 years, a more recent decrease occurred within the last 3 years. Additionally, with almost 57% of surgeons having been practicing for >20 years, concern exists regarding whether current practices can sustain increasing patient needs. The results from the present study indicate that further investigation is warranted regarding the factors contributing to this shortage and the steps that can be taken to increase the production of well-trained neurosurgeons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e261-e266
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Aging population
  • Neurosurgery
  • Shortage
  • Workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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