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General Surgery Residency Inadequately Prepares Trainees for Fellowship: Results of a Survey of Fellowship Program Directors

Mattar, Samer G. MD*; Alseidi, Adnan A. MD, FACS; Jones, Daniel B. MD, FACS; Jeyarajah, D. Rohan MD, FACS§; Swanstrom, Lee L. MD, FACS; Aye, Ralph W. MD, FACS; Wexner, Steven D. MD, FACS, FRCS, FRCS(Edin), PhD (Hon)**; Martinez, José M. MD, FACS††; Ross, Sharona B. MD, FACS‡‡; Awad, Michael M. MD, FACS§§; Franklin, Morris E. MD, FACS‖‖; Arregui, Maurice E. MD, FACS¶¶; Schirmer, Bruce D. MD, FACS***; Minter, Rebecca M. MD, FACS†††

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3182a191ca
Papers of the 133rd ASA Annual Meeting

Objective: To assess readiness of general surgery graduate trainees entering accredited surgical subspecialty fellowships in North America.

Methods: A multidomain, global assessment survey designed by the Fellowship Council research committee was electronically sent to all subspecialty program directors. Respondents spanned minimally invasive surgery, bariatric, colorectal, hepatobiliary, and thoracic specialties. There were 46 quantitative questions distributed across 5 domains and 1 or more reflective qualitative questions/domains.

Results: There was a 63% response rate (n = 91/145). Of respondent program directors, 21% felt that new fellows arrived unprepared for the operating room, 38% demonstrated lack of patient ownership, 30% could not independently perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and 66% were deemed unable to operate for 30 unsupervised minutes of a major procedure. With regard to laparoscopic skills, 30% could not atraumatically manipulate tissue, 26% could not recognize anatomical planes, and 56% could not suture. Furthermore, 28% of fellows were not familiar with therapeutic options and 24% were unable to recognize early signs of complications. Finally, it was felt that the majority of new fellows were unable to conceive, design, and conduct research/academic projects. Thematic clustering of qualitative data revealed deficits in domains of operative autonomy, progressive responsibility, longitudinal follow-up, and scholarly focus after general surgery education.

This article reports the results of an electronic survey of surgical fellowship program directors that reveals a gap between the abilities of graduating surgical residents and the expectations of fellowship program directors toward incoming fellows.

*Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN

Viginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA

Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA

§Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Dallas, TX

Oregon Health Science University, Oregon Clinic, Portland, Oregon, OR

Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, WA

**Cleveland Clinic Florida, Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine, Westin, Florida, FL

††University of Miami, Miami, FL

‡‡Florida Hospital, Tampa, FL

§§Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, MO

‖‖Texas Endosurgery Institute, San Antonio, TX

¶¶St Vincent's Hospital, Indianapolis, IN

***University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; and

†††University of Michigan, Ann Arbour, MI.

Reprints: Samer G. Mattar, MD, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN 46202. E-mail:;

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.