The neurosurgeon workforce: a geographical gender-focused analysis of the trends in representation of neurosurgeons and choices in training over 70 years

Alexander D. Smith, Alexa R. Lauinger, Maxine Arnush, Annabelle Shaffer, Aliya Siddiqui, Ashutosh Nayak, Paul M. Arnold, Suguna Pappu, Albert Yu, Ann Stroink, Wael Hassaneen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE Neurosurgeons frequently move throughout their careers, with moves driven by personal and professional factors. In this study, the authors analyzed these migration trends through a dynamic migratory map and statistical review, with a particular focus on differences in education and practice patterns between male and female neurosurgeons. METHODS A list containing all board-certified and -affiliated US neurosurgeons practicing in 2019 was obtained from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. The list was augmented to include demographic and location information for medical school, residency, fellowship(s), and current practice for all neurosurgeons with publicly available data. Migration heatmaps were generated, and migration patterns over 10-year intervals were plotted. A web tool was additionally created to allow for dynamic visualization of this database. RESULTS The database included 5307 neurosurgeons with a mean age of 57.2 ± 11.3 years. The female population made up 8.93% of all neurosurgeons, and were found to be more likely to complete fellowships than their male counterparts, at 54.2% and 39.1%, respectively (p < 0.0001). A total of 39.5% of all neurosurgeons completed at least one fellowship. A large proportion of currently practicing US neurosurgeons completed medical school internationally in the 1990s. Recently, there has been a trend in neurosurgeons choosing to practice in the South, emigrating from the Northeast and the Western US Census regions. By population, the Western US region trained the fewest neurosurgeons at 1 per 115,000 residents, and the Northeastern US region trained the most at 1 per 49,000. The web tool provides a simple interface to visualize the database on a world map. CONCLUSIONS Diversity, equity, and inclusion in neurosurgery have been a strong point of discussion in recent literature, with neurosurgeons comprising one of the most gender-disparate workforces in the US medical system. This study provides additional metrics to assess these disparities to help motivate further action toward a larger, more diverse neurosurgical community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE9
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • and inclusion
  • disparities
  • diversity
  • equity
  • female neurosurgeon
  • geographic
  • workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'The neurosurgeon workforce: a geographical gender-focused analysis of the trends in representation of neurosurgeons and choices in training over 70 years'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this