Interest in acute care surgery (ACS) has increased over the past 10 years as demonstrated by the linear increase in fellowship applicants to the different fellowships leading to ACS careers. It is unclear why interest has increased, whether various fellowship pathways attract different applicants or whether fellowship choice correlates with practice patterns after graduation.
An online survey was distributed to individuals previously registered with the Surgical critical care and Acute care surgery Fellowship Application Service. Fellowship program directors were also asked to forward the survey to current and former fellows to increase the response rate. Data collected included demographics, clinical interests and motivations, publications, and postfellowship practice patterns. Fisher's exact and Pearson's χ2 were used to determine significance.
Trauma surgery was the primary clinical interest for all fellowship types (n = 273). Fellowship type had no impact on academic productivity or practice patterns. Most fellows would repeat their own fellowship. The 2-year American Association for the Surgery of Trauma–approved fellowship was nearly uniformly reported as the preferred choice among those who would perform a different fellowship. Career motivations were similar across fellowships and over time though recent trainees were more likely to consider predictability of schedule a significant factor in career choice. Respondents reported graduated progression to full responsibility, further exposure to trauma care and additional operative technical training as benefits of a second fellowship year.
American Association for the Surgery of Trauma–approved 2-year fellows appear to be the most satisfied with their fellowship choice. No differences were noted in academic productivity or practice between fellowships. Future research should focus on variability in trauma training and operative experience during residency and in practice to better inform how a second fellowship year would improve training for ACS careers.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Descriptive, mixed methods, Level IV.