Physician Workforce in Kansas: Where are the Orthopedic Surgeons?


  • Dorothy Hughes, Ph.D. University of Kansas School of Medicine
  • Derek Reese, B.S.
  • Kim Templeton, M.D.



Introduction. Rural patients have greater need but less access to orthopedic surgical care than their urban counterparts. Previous studies have investigated rural surgical care, but this is the first to assess the Kansas orthopedic surgery workforce to identify changes over time and rurality and inform thinking about future workforce composition.      

Methods. The authors analyzed 2009 and 2019 AMA MasterFile and Area Health Resource File (AHRF) data. Using frequencies, percentages, and calculations of orthopedic surgeons per capita, we assessed workforce changes by rurality (Rural Urban Continuum Codes).  

Results. The dataset included 307 orthopedic surgeons; 197 were in both 2009 and 2019. Of these, 165 were in active practice in 2009 and 244 in 2019, an increase of 79 (47.9%). Kansas had smaller proportions of surgeons in rural (non-metro) versus urban (metro) counties in both years. Orthopedic surgeons per capita grew throughout the state, but the increase was smaller in rural counties. There were 11 women orthopedic surgeons in both years, 3.6% of the total 307. Among the 197 surgeons in both years, four (2.0%) were women. No women orthopedic surgeons were in non-metro counties either year.  

Conclusions. Although the Kansas orthopedic surgery workforce grew from 2009 to 2019, rural Kansas remains a surgery desert based on orthopedic surgeons per capita. Further studies could determine whether this trend is similar to that in other rural states and how to attract orthopedic surgeons to rural practice.


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Original Research

How to Cite

Hughes, D., Reese, D., & Templeton, K. (2024). Physician Workforce in Kansas: Where are the Orthopedic Surgeons?. Kansas Journal of Medicine, 17(1), 1-5.