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Defining the acute care surgery curriculum

Duane, Therese M. MD; Dente, Christopher J. MD; Fildes, John J. MD; Davis, Kimberly A. MD; Jurkovich, Gregory J. MD; Meredith, J. Wayne MD; Britt, L.D. MD, MPH

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: February 2015 - Volume 78 - Issue 2 - p 259–264
doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000000522
AAST 2014 Plenary Papers

BACKGROUND This study was designed to define the gaps in essential and desirable (E/D) case volumes that may prompt reevaluation of the acute care surgery (ACS) curriculum or restructuring of the training provided.

METHODS A review of the first 2 years of ACS case log entry (July 2011 to June 2013) was performed. Individual trainee logs were evaluated to determine how often they performed each case on the E/D list. Trainees described cases using current procedural terminology codes, which had been previously mapped to the E/D list.

RESULTS There were 29 trainees from 15 programs (Year 1) and 30 trainees from 13 programs (Year 2) who participated in case log entry, with some overlap between the years. There were a total of 487 fellow-months of data with an average of 14.6 current procedural terminology codes per month and 175.5 per year for cases on the E/D list versus 12 and 143.5 for cases not on the E/D list, respectively. Overall, the most common essential cases were laparotomy for trauma (1,463; 705 in Year 1, 758 in Year 2), tracheostomy (665; 372 in Year 1, 293 in Year 2) and gastrostomy tubes (566; 289 in Year 1, 277 in Year 2). There are a total of 73 types of essential operations and 45 types of desirable operations in the current curriculum. There were 16 distinct codes (13.6%) never used, of which 6 overlapped with other codes. Based on body region, the 10 E/D codes never used by any fellow were as follows: one head/face, lateral canthotomy; five neck; elective neck dissections; one thoracic, vascular trauma to chest; three pediatrics, inguinal hernia repair and small bowel obstruction treatments.

CONCLUSION The current ACS trainees lack adequate head/neck and pediatric experience as defined by the ACS curriculum. Restructuring rotations at individual institutions and a focus on novel educational modalities may be needed to augment the individual institutional exposure. Reevaluation of the curriculum may be warranted.

From the JPS Health Network (T.M.D.), Fort Worth, Texas; Emory University (C.J.D.), Atlanta, Georgia; University of Nevada School of Medicine (J.J.F.), Las Vegas, Nevada; Yale University (K.A.D.), New Haven, Connecticut; Denver Health Medical Center (G.J.J.), Denver, Colorado; Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (J.W.M.), Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Eastern Virginia Medical School (L.D.B.), Norfolk, Virginia.

Submitted: July 31, 2014, Revised: October 25, 2014, Accepted: November 4, 2014.

This study was presented at the 73rd annual meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, September 9–13, 2014, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Address for reprints: Therese M. Duane MD, JPS Health Network, Department of Surgery, 1500 S Main St, 3rd Floor OPC, Suite 303, Fort Worth, TX 76104; email;

© 2015 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.