Physician supply and demand in anatomical pathology in Taiwan

Chih Yi Hsu, Shih Ming Jung, Shih Sung Chuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Purpose: Anatomical pathology was not popular in Taiwan a few decades ago, with a severe shortage of pathologists. However, there has been a steady increase in recent years, and now there is a threat of oversupply. We evaluated supply and demand over the past three decades and compared the findings with other countries. Methods: We collected the enrollment data of pathologists and physicians from the Taiwan Society of Pathology, the Department of Health, Executive Yuan, and Taiwan Medical Association, and analyzed equivalent data from other countries. We sent questionnaires to pathology chiefs to inquire about future job vacancies. Results: The number of pathologists has increased at an annual rate of 4.93% between 2004 and 2008, in contrast to 3.7% for all physicians. There has been a net annual increase of 12 pathologists in the past 13 years. The estimated average number of consultant posts per year was nine, which was only one-third of the average number of first-year residents (R1s). The number of pathologists/million population in Taiwan was 14.83, which was comparable to that in Japan and South Korea but much smaller than that in Canada and the United States. The ratio of pathologists to physicians in Taiwan was 0.97%, which was higher than that in Japan (0.68%) and South Korea (0.64%), but lower than in Canada (1.32%) and the United States (1.46%). On average, 1.79% of medical graduates chose pathology for their R1 training in Taiwan, which was higher than that in the United States (1.50%) and Canada (1.10-1.20%). Conclusion: Anatomical pathology is no longer a specialty that is facing a physician shortage in Taiwan, and there is now a relatively high pathologist/physician ratio among Asian countries. We suggest that a decrease in the number of R1s in pathology is needed to maintain a balance between supply and demand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-84
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Anatomical pathology
  • Pathologists
  • Physicians
  • Supply and demand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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