Impending challenges in the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation physician workforce

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2009 Dec;15(12):1493-501. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2009.08.022. Epub 2009 Sep 23.


With increasing use of high dose chemotherapy with autologous and allogeneic transplants the need for the transplant physician workforce requires reassessment. The types of transplants and patients are also shifting toward transplants being done in patients with more comorbidities and more commonly these types of patients require more work effort per patient from the transplant physician. Additionally, HSCT survivors often require ongoing care at the transplant center due to the inability of the primary care workforce or the hematology/oncology workforce to absorb caring for post complex post transplant patients. The adult transplant workforce has had very few physicians join under age 40. Nearly 50% of adult transplant physicians are over age 50 whereas only 28% of pediatric transplant physicians are over age 50. By 2020, it is projected that we will need 1,264 new adult transplant physicians and 94 pediatric transplant physicians. Training time for a physician is approximately 15 years. The capping of both medical school slots and residency slots since the early '80s is now having a very big impact on supply, but other factors are also affecting supplies such as generational differences, lifestyle expectations, and the change of the medical workforce from being mostly men. Workforce shortages are being reported for many specialities. Workforce problems are also present for nurses, pharmacists and medical technologists. So increasing use of general internists and mid-level providers may not exist as a solution. Transplant physicians must be actively engaged in the medical education process to show young medical students and residents who are not committed to another sub specialty career the excitement and challenges of a career in bone marrow transplantation, so that our field will have providers for the future.

MeSH terms

  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Physicians*