The competitive nature of an academic plastic surgery career has contributed to an increase in sub-specialization. The aim of this study is to assess the benefits of subspecialty fellowship training to pursue a career in academic plastic surgery.
A cross-sectional study was conducted of all current academic plastic surgeons (APSs) participating in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education–certified residency programs. Online faculty website listings were used to collect their demographics, training and practice characteristics, academic rank and leadership positions, and research productivity.
A total of 927 APSs met the inclusion criteria, of which 70.2% had undergone fellowship training, with an overall significant increase in fellowship-trained surgeons within the last 10 years (odds ratio [OR], 1.66; P = 0.0005). Hand training was the most common fellowship (35.6%), followed by craniofacial (32.0%) and microsurgery (28.1%). Fellowship training was more prevalent among younger (48.7 vs 53.5 years, P < 0.0001), White (67.8%), and non-White (77.4%, P = 0.0058) APSs who had received either integrated (67.1%) or independent (81.8%, P < 0.0001) plastic surgery training and are currently working in a department (OR, 1.44; P = 0.028). Fellowship training was shown to influence academic rank (associate professor: OR, 1.68 [P = 0.0073]; full professor: OR, 0.58 [P = 0.0008]), leadership position (fellowship director OR, 10.09; P < 0.0001) and research productivity (publications: 26 vs 16.5; P = 0.0009). In addition, fellowship attainment did not correlate with the size of the employing academic program, population of the city of practice, or being a residency director or chair.
The majority of APSs have undergone fellowship training, and there is very strong evidence supporting its impact in current entry and advancement in academic plastic surgery.