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General surgery at rural Tennessee hospitals: a survey of rural Tennessee hospital administrators



General surgery at rural Tennessee hospitals: a survey of rural Tennessee hospital administrators



American Surgeon 77(7): 820-825



Rural communities face an impending surgical workforce crisis. The purpose of this study is to describe perceptions of rural Tennessee hospital administrators regarding the importance of surgical services to their hospitals. In collaboration with the Tennessee Hospital Association, we developed and administered a 13-item survey based on a recently published national survey to 80 rural Tennessee hospitals in August 2008. A total of 29 responses were received for an overall 36.3 per cent response rate. Over 44 per cent of rural surgeons were older than 50 years of age, and 27.6 per cent of hospitals reported they would lose at least one surgeon in the next 2 years. The responding hospitals reported losing 10.4 per cent of their surgical workforce in the preceding 2 years. Over 53 per cent were actively recruiting a general surgeon with an average time to recruit a surgeon of 11.8 months. Ninety-seven per cent stated that having a surgical program was very important to their financial viability with the mean and median reported revenue generated by a single general surgeon being $1.8 million and $1.4 million, respectively. Almost 11 per cent of the hospitals stated they would have to close if they lost surgical services. Although rural Tennessee hospitals face similar difficulties to national rural hospitals with regard to retaining and hiring surgeons, slightly more Tennessee hospitals (54 vs 36%) were actively attempting to recruit a general surgeon. The shortage of general surgeons is a threat to the accessibility of comprehensive hospital-based care for rural Tennesseans.

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Accession: 053370266

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PMID: 21944341


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