The implications of fellowship expansion on future pediatric urologist surgical volumes

Published:November 27, 2017DOI:



      Over the past 25 years, Pediatric Urology fellowship programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) have more than doubled. This increase may lead to a significant decrease in the number of operative cases per surgeon and therefore impact the current practice of pediatric urology.


      The objective in conducting this study is to try and predict the effect of the current number of pediatric urology fellowship training positions on future case volume per surgeon using a mathematical model and to discuss future management of the pediatric urology workforce.


      The current study employed a mathematical model to predict the effect of the number of fellowship graduates on future “case volume per surgeon”. We incorporated population growth rates, to calculate incidence rates of key procedures/conditions and the anticipated retirement rate of the current pool of pediatric urologists to help calculate this.


      There is a possibility to increase the number of practicing board-certified pediatric urologists in the next 30 years from approximately 325 to 900 (figure). There will be a twofold reduction in case volume per surgeon compared to the present in model 1. In model 2 the decrease in case volumes is less significant. The annual number of fellows needed to obtain a future-to-current ratio equal to 1 is 16 for model 1, and 26 for model 2.


      Our study demonstrates, by using two different models that the current number of pediatric urology fellowship training positions in the United States will ultimately lead to a significant decrease in the case volume per surgeons. Our model has limitations as it relies on multiple assumptions. We are assuming that all fellowship positions would be filled every year and that all fellows would graduate, establish their practices in the United States, and devote 100% of their assumed 30-year professional career to pediatric urology. We also made assumptions of disease occurrence and need for surgical correction. The final assumption we made was that the birth rate would stay static over the next 30 years even though it has been declining for many decades.


      Figure thumbnail fx1
      Graphical AbstractThe projected changes in pediatric urology manpower, eventually leading to a steady-state of 900 pediatric urologists in 30 years, a point where the number of retiring pediatric urologists will be replaced by an equivalent number of fellowship graduates on an annual basis.


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