A study commissioned by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) projects that the US radiation oncology workforce will remain relatively balanced between the supply of radiation oncologists and the demand for radiation therapy services through 2030.
The report, produced by Health Management Associates (HMA) accompanies a review commentary from the ASTRO Workforce Task Force published as an article-in-press in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics (Red Journal).
ASTRO assembled its Workforce Task Force in 2021 to address questions related to a potential imbalance in the supply of practicing radiation oncologists in the U.S. and the demand for radiation therapy services. The task force members included physicians from community practices and academic institutions; radiation oncology residents, residency program directors and department chairs; and members with health equity expertise. HMA was tasked to evaluate trends in supply and demand, and to model future workforce projections.
The HMA report models several potential scenarios for the future radiation oncologist workforce, based on trends including the number of doctors entering and leaving the specialty; projected growth in Medicare usage due to an aging population; changing demand for radiation therapy, including new indications; increased use of hypofractionation; and radiation oncologist workload. Key takeaways are as follows:
“We appreciate the efforts of the ASTRO Workforce Task Force to address these difficult questions. The report’s findings underscore that the field of radiation oncology is likely to face relative growth and contraction at various times in the years ahead. It is important that stakeholders continue to regularly evaluate workforce needs and analyze trends to help the specialty better understand the potential for over- or undersupply,” said Geraldine M Jacobson, MD, MBA, MPH, FASTRO, Chair of the ASTRO Board of Directors.
“The results of this study are encouraging for our specialty. However, they also support the notion that we are most likely in balance over the next few years, and expansion of trainee positions, through both new programs and growing resident cohorts at existing programs, should be considered with caution. The analysis also suggests that we should continue to monitor the workforce needs regularly as supply and demand can change over time,” said Bruce Haffty, MD, FASTRO, Chair of the ASTRO Workforce Task Force. These concerns were previously noted by the task force chairs in a blog post and editorial that accompanied a workforce statement issued by the ASTRO Board of Directors in February 2022.Back To Top
Radiation Oncology Workforce Projected to Stay Stable Through 2030. Appl Rad Oncol.