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Academic Productivity of Directors of ACGME-Accredited Residency Programs in Surgery and Anesthesiology

Culley, Deborah J. MD*; Fahy, Brenda G. MD; Xie, Zhongcong MD, PhD; Lekowski, Robert MD*; Buetler, Sascha MD, PhD*; Liu, Xiaoxia MS*; Cohen, Neal H. MD; Crosby, Gregory MD

doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e3182a8fab5
Economics, Education, and Policy: Research Report

BACKGROUND: Scholarly activity is expected of program directors of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited residency training programs. Anesthesiology residency programs are cited more often than surgical programs for deficiencies in academic productivity. We hypothesized that this may in part reflect differences in scholarly activity between program directors of anesthesiology and surgical trainings programs. To test the hypothesis, we examined the career track record of current program directors of ACGME-accredited anesthesiology and surgical residency programs at the same institutions using PubMed citations and funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as metrics of scholarly activity.

METHODS: Between November 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, we obtained data from publicly available Web sites on program directors at 127 institutions that had ACGME-accredited programs in both anesthesiology and surgery. Information gathered on each individual included year of board certification, year first appointed program director, academic rank, history of NIH grant funding, and number of PubMed citations. We also calculated the h-index for a randomly selected subset of 25 institution-matched program directors.

RESULTS: There were no differences between the groups in number of years since board certification (P = 0.42), academic rank (P = 0.38), or years as a program director (P = 0.22). However, program directors in anesthesiology had less prior or current NIH funding (P = 0.002), fewer total and education-related PubMed citations (both P < 0.001), and a lower h-index (P = 0.001) than surgery program directors. Multivariate analysis revealed that the publication rate for anesthesiology program directors was 43% (95% confidence interval, 0.31–0.58) that of the corresponding program directors of surgical residency programs, holding other variables constant.

CONCLUSIONS: Program directors of anesthesiology residency programs have considerably less scholarly activity in terms of peer-reviewed publications and federal research funding than directors of surgical residency programs. As such, this study provides further evidence for a systemic weakness in the scholarly fabric of academic anesthesiology.

Published ahead of print November 15, 2013

From the *Department of Anesthesiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Anesthesiology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida; Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California; and Department of Anesthesiology, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

Accepted for publication August 1, 2013.

Published ahead of print November 15, 2013

Funding: Departmental Funds.

Conflict of Interest: See Disclosures at the end of the article.

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to Deborah J. Culley, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 75 Francis St., Boston, MA 02115. Address e-mail to

© 2014 International Anesthesia Research Society