Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Identification of Best Practices for Resident Aesthetic Clinics in Plastic Surgery Training

The ACAPS National Survey

Hultman, C. Scott MD, MBA, FACS*; Wu, Cindy MD*; Bentz, Michael L. MD; Redett, Richard J. MD; Shack, R. Bruce MD§; David, Lisa R. MD; Taub, Peter J. MD; Janis, Jeffrey E. MD**

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open: March 2015 - Volume 3 - Issue 3S-2 - p e370
doi: 10.1097/01.GOX.0000464864.49568.18
2014 ACAPS Congress: Meeting Proceeding
Open
SDC

Introduction: Resident aesthetic clinics (RACs) have demonstrated good outcomes and acceptable patient satisfaction, but few studies have evaluated their educational, financial, or medicolegal components. We sought to determine RAC best practices.

Methods: We surveyed American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeon members (n = 399), focusing on operational details, resident supervision, patient safety, medicolegal history, financial viability, and research opportunities. Of the 96 respondents, 63 reported having a RAC, and 56% of plastic surgery residency program directors responded.

Results: RACs averaged 243 patient encounters and 53.9 procedures annually, having been in existence for 19.6 years (mean). Full-time faculty (73%) supervised chief residents (84%) in all aspects of care (65%). Of the 63 RACs, 45 were accredited, 40 had licensed procedural suites, 28 had inclusion/exclusion criteria, and 31 used anesthesiologists. Seventeen had overnight capability, and 17 had a Life Safety Plan. No cases of malignant hyperthermia occurred, but 1 facility death was reported. Sixteen RACs had been involved in a lawsuit, and 33 respondents reported financial viability of the RACs. Net revenue was transferred to both the residents’ educational fund (41%) and divisional/departmental overhead (37%). Quality measures included case logs (78%), morbidity/mortality conference (62%), resident surveys (52%), and patient satisfaction scores (46%). Of 63 respondents, 14 have presented or published RAC-specific research; 80 of 96 of those who were surveyed believed RACs enhanced education.

Conclusions: RACs are an important component of plastic surgery education. Most clinics are financially viable but carry high malpractice risk and consume significant resources. Best practices, to maximize patient safety and optimize resident education, include use of accredited procedural rooms and direct faculty supervision of all components of care.

From the *Division of Plastic Surgery, University Of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.; Department of Plastic Surgery, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.; §Department of Plastic Surgery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.; Department of Plastic Surgery, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Department of Plastic Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York, N.Y.; and **Department of Plastic Surgery, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

Presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, October 2013, San Diego, Calif.; and the Annual Winter Retreat of the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons, December 2014, Chicago, Ill.

Disclosure: Drs. Hultman, Bentz, David, Taub, and Janis currently hold officer or chair positions on the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons. Neither of the other authors has any financial disclosures. This study was supported, in part, by the UNC Ethel and James Valone Plastic Surgery Research Endowment. The Article Processing Charge was paid for by the authors.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Clickable URL citations appear in the text.

C. Scott Hultman, MD, MBA, FACS, Division of Plastic Surgery, University of North Carolina, Suite 7038, Burnett-Womack, CB#7195, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7195, E-mail: cshult@med.unc.edu

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License, where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

Many plastic surgery training programs include a resident aesthetic clinic (RAC), in which trainees have increased autonomy in decision making and patients have improved access to aesthetic surgery, usually through reduced charges. Although many studies have demonstrated good outcomes,1–6 reasonable patient satisfaction,7,8 and an acceptable safety profile,9,10 few reports have rigorously evaluated the operational, financial, and medicolegal components of these programs.11–13

Even though most plastic surgery educators recognize the value of having a RAC, many different models for such a learning environment exist,14–18 and best practices for this teaching paradigm have not yet been defined. As the surgical trainee gains experience in aesthetic surgery, this learner must also become an autonomous practitioner, mastering key competencies of not only patient care and medical knowledge but also systems-based practice, communications, practice-based learning, and professionalism. The RAC, in which trainees evaluate patients, form an operative plan, execute the procedure, and provide follow-up care, represents an ideal setting for gaining increased independence, under the close observation of supervising faculty members.

This article attempts to move our educational framework “1-step closer” to knowing the optimal learning experience in aesthetic surgery. We hypothesize that RACs represent a valuable, unique paradigm for surgical education, provided that clinical results are acceptable, patient and provider satisfaction remains high, and patient safety is given highest priority. The authors will describe the current status of RACs in plastic surgery training and will provide best-practice guidelines to achieve superior outcomes.

Back to Top | Article Outline

MATERIALS AND METHODS

We conducted an anonymous, 41-question, internet-based survey of all members of the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons (ACAPS) (n = 399). Our questionnaire (designed by the first author and constructed by PRRI, Beverly, Mass.) focused on the following components: demographic information about the respondents, operational details of the clinic, resident training and supervision, patient safety, medicolegal history, financial considerations, and research opportunities.

The questionnaire was sent to ACAPS members 3 times, from October to December 2012 (See Appendix, Supplemental Digital Content 1, which displays the Resident Aesthetic Clinic: Best Practices Project, ACAPS National Survey, http://links.lww.com/PRSGO/A94) Overall response rate for ACAPS members was 24% (n = 96). Response rate for program directors was 56% (49 program directors from 87 institutions), representing over half of all training programs. Of the 96 respondents, 63 reported that their institution included a RAC (66%). It should be noted that some institutions had more than 1 respondent. Thus, this survey reflects the opinions of ACAPS members who are involved with resident education, not specific programs.

Using information obtained by this survey and combining these data with their own experience, the authors developed a list of best practices for RACs. These best practices were further refined, as a result of the discussion between panelists and attendees, at the 2013 ACAPS Annual Spring Retreat and further refined by the ACAPS Aesthetic Surgery Task Force at the 2014 Annual Winter retreat of ACAPS.

Back to Top | Article Outline

RESULTS

Demographics of Respondents

Overall response rate was 96 of 399 ACAPS members (24%). Of the 96 respondents, 49 were program directors and 31 were chiefs or chairs of plastic surgery (Fig. 1). Only 5 residency coordinators participated in the survey. Mean length of time in practice was 20 years, with a range of 0–40 years (Fig. 2). Regarding type of practice, the vast majority of respondents had mostly reconstructive practices (n = 76), compared with a minority of respondents who had mostly aesthetic practices (n = 9) (Fig. 3).

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 3

In terms of the training programs, respondents reported the following mix of residency programs: integrated, n = 35; independent, n = 34; integrated and independent, n = 27. The following organizational structure was reported for the plastic surgery practices: Division of Surgery at a Medical School (n = 72), Department of a Medical School (n = 19), and Private Practice (n = 5). Sixty-three of 96 respondents (66%) reported the presence of a RAC, in which “plastic surgery residents had a focused cosmetic experience with some degree of autonomy.”

Back to Top | Article Outline

Operational Details

RACs have been in practice for a mean of 19.6 years, with a range of 1–50 years (Fig. 4). In terms of clinical volume, respondents reported a median of 88 patients and an average of 243 patients treated each year, with a range of 2–2000 encounters per year (Fig. 5). When asked about procedures done at the RAC, respondents noted a median of 25 and an average of 53.9 procedures done each year, with a range of 0–300 cases per year (Fig. 6). Components of the RACs, specific to location of patient encounters, include a combination of examination rooms and surgical suites (Fig. 7), with 40 of the 63 clinics including access to a licensed operating room.

Fig. 4

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

Fig. 7

Back to Top | Article Outline

Resident Supervision

Thirty-five of 64 respondents (54%) who reported having a RAC indicated that RAC was a formal rotation in their residency program. Although respondents noted that chief residents represented the largest group of participants (n = 53), lower level residents also have some degree of participation in the RAC (Fig. 8). Nearly all residents (60 of 64) provide continuity of care for their patients. According to the respondents, residents receive supervision mostly by full-time core faculty (Fig. 9), who usually oversee all components of perioperative and intraoperative care (Fig. 10).

Fig. 10

Fig. 10

Fig. 8

Fig. 8

Fig. 9

Fig. 9

Back to Top | Article Outline

Patient Safety

Although the majority of RACs have some type of accreditation, 18 of 63 respondents with RACs reported no accreditation (Fig. 11). Furthermore, 28 of 63 respondents with RACs reported a list of inclusion/exclusion criteria for cases, and only 17 respondents reported having a Life Safety Plan for the RAC. An anesthesiologist administers anesthesia in 31 of 38 RACs with operative capability, whereas other personnel are used for this function in the remaining RACs (certified registered nurse anesthetist, 3; nursing staff, 2; and surgeon, 2). Seventeen of the 35 clinics with operative capability reported the ability to recover patients overnight.

Fig. 11

Fig. 11

Back to Top | Article Outline

Medicolegal History

Of the 64 respondents who indicated that their institution had a RAC, 1 ACAPS member reported a patient death in the facility and 2 ACAPS members reported patient deaths within 30 days of the procedure. Our cohort of ACAPS members observed no cases of malignant hyperthermia. Sixteen of the 62 ACAPS members (26%) indicated that their RAC has been involved in a lawsuit. Regarding malpractice insurance models, most groups are self-insured and pay premiums to a group trust (Fig. 12). Three of the 63 respondents with RACs noted that patients must sign a waiver, releasing residents from malpractice liability or to limit award for damages.

Fig. 12

Fig. 12

Back to Top | Article Outline

Financial Viability

Although 18 respondents did not know if their RACs were financially viable, 33 respondents indicated that their RACs were financially viable, compared with 13 respondents who reported that the RACs were not financially viable. The large majority of attending surgeons do not receive any financial remuneration, but some of the respondents do receive compensation from professional fees, teaching stipend, or a medial directorship (Fig. 13). Almost all RACs offer discounted fees (59 of 63, 94%), and most RACs charge for the initial consultation (39 of 63, 62%). The most effective method for patient recruitment was listed as “word of mouth” (61 of 63, 97%). Faculty practices contribute various types of resources to the RACs, in addition to resident supervision (Fig. 14), such as clinic space, scheduling, nursing support, and disposable supplies. If profitable, net income is primarily transferred to a residents’ education fund, but some of the gains are transferred back to the division or department, presumably to cover overhead costs (Fig. 15). Only a small fraction of the positive net income is directed toward incentive plans for the faculty, to the dean or the hospital, or toward an operating reserve.

Fig. 13

Fig. 13

Fig. 14

Fig. 14

Fig. 15

Fig. 15

Back to Top | Article Outline

Research and Outcomes Effectiveness

Respondents indicated that RACs use a number of different methodologies to measure the effectiveness of the educational experience, with review of resident case logs and morbidity and mortality conferences as the most popular techniques (Fig. 16). Fourteen of the 64 respondents with RACs have presented related data at national scientific meetings, and 12 respondents have published their research in peer-reviewed, scientific journals. The overwhelming perception is that RACs have a positive effect on plastic surgery training (Fig. 17). The majority of respondents were neutral when asked about the impact of the RAC on their practice (n = 36), but only a minority of respondents reported that the RAC was a liability for the practice (n = 7) (Fig. 18).

Fig. 16

Fig. 16

Fig. 17

Fig. 17

Fig. 18

Fig. 18

Back to Top | Article Outline

DISCUSSION

RACs serve as an important component of graduate medical education in plastic surgery. Most clinics are financially viable but carry a high malpractice risk and consume considerable resources. Best practices, to maximize patient safety and optimize resident education, include use of accredited procedural rooms, having anesthesiologists provide anesthesia, and providing appropriate faculty supervision at all stages of patient care.

Despite their tremendous potential educational importance, medicolegal issues limit the value of RACs, through increased exposure and liability of both the resident and attending physicians. Given the perioperative deaths reported in this survey, combined with a litigation rate of 25%, significant measures must be pursued to create a culture that stresses patient safety, in such a setting where graduate medical education occurs. Quality metrics, such as reporting of adverse events, use of standardized safety protocols and check lists, supervision that exceeds requirements of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and longitudinal follow-up of patients, must be incorporated into the mission and operational structure of the RAC. We strongly recommend establishing a formal relationship with risk management, just as divisions and departments currently do, through the following modalities: morbidity and mortality conferences, peer review of cases, and preemptive reporting of complications and patient complaints.

The educational concept of a RACs is not new and has been implemented in various specialties, including plastic surgery, otolaryngology,19 and dermatology.20 In fact, the literature is replete with articles addressing the mechanics of administrating Plastic Surgery RACs, their educational benefit, and analyses of outcome data. According to Neaman et al3 in 2010, 71% of plastic surgery residencies had a cosmetic surgery clinic, with 44% of the respondents noted that 100% of the cases performed there were cosmetic in nature.

In 2006, the University of Kentucky group noted that the resident cosmetic surgery clinic contributed 82% of the resident’s total aesthetic procedures. This was completed with a 3.1% reoperative complication rate and no medicolegal litigation.4 Pyle et al10 at Wake Forest reported that not only do residents gain added experience as surgeon in a resident-driven clinic but also patients are able to receive cosmetic surgery that they might not otherwise be able to access. They had no major complications but did report a minor complication rate of 8% and a revision rate of 14.4%.10

Freiberg et al8 at the University of Toronto examined a retrospective survey of 265 patients with a 49% response rate, where 93% of patients said they would recommend the clinic (after a slightly lower rate the first year), and 93% would undergo the same procedure again if required. The highest patient satisfaction was seen in augmentation mammoplasty (9.1/10.0) and blepharoplasty (9.0/10.0), whereas rhytidectomy and rhinoplasty were lower at 7.8/10.00 and 6.9/10.0, respectively.8 At Georgetown University, Iorio et al7 evaluated satisfaction with resident injected fillers using a FACE-Q survey. They demonstrated a 91% rate of being satisfied or very satisfied with this evolving less invasive and highly popular injection in 10 patients.7

At the American Association of Plastic Surgeons meeting in 2012, a 2-year retrospective review of patient care from 2009 to 2011 at the Johns Hopkins Resident Cosmetic Surgery Clinic was presented. Rad et al9 noted complications rates consistent with the mainstream cosmetic surgery literature, breaking down the procedures by type and body location. Their study sample included 115 patients who underwent 132 primary body-contouring procedures and 53 patients who underwent 84 facial aesthetic procedures.9

Based on the published literature and the ACAPS national survey, it is clear that resident education in aesthetic surgery must be grounded in principles of informed consent, appropriate patient selection, patient safety, teamwork, and critical assessment of outcomes. Fortunately, qualitative and quantitative instruments have been recently developed to assess outcomes, in terms of patient satisfaction and objective measures.21–23 Furthermore, surgical educators are focusing on how to teach trainees aesthetic surgery—and reporting these results—within the framework of competency- and milestone-based graduate medical education.24–26 Additional efforts have been pursued to educate residents about the importance of strategic marketing, accounting and finance, economic forces of competition, the supply chain, and regulatory/legal considerations, in the context of office-based surgery and aesthetic services.27–32

The Aesthetic Surgery Task Force of the ACAPS endorses the concept a properly supervised RAC, provided that the following guidelines are considered and followed, to the greatest extent possible, within training programs accredited by the ACGME:

  1. The educational experience should maximize resident autonomy, appropriate to level of training, as permitted by ACGME guidelines.
    • a. Residents must obtain a complete history and physical examination, with preoperative evaluation to include patient photographs.
    • b. Residents must discuss case with attending regarding operative plan.
    • c. Attendings must be present for planning and execution of procedure.
    • d. Residents must be involved with postoperative management, including complications.
    • e. Residents must be available for 24–7 coverage, with adequate faculty backup.
  2. Longitudinal, complete continuity of care is critical; no postrotation handoffs should occur.
  3. The RAC must have a medical director who oversees the educational components of the program, to ensure that quality measures are met, that patient safety is optimized, and that operational logistics are well managed.
  4. The RAC must establish screening processes to eliminate inappropriate patients, using such predefined parameters, such as body mass index, smoking status, uncontrolled diabetes, or hypertension.
  5. The RAC must establish operative criteria, such as inclusion/exclusion lists and maximum length of case.
  6. Surgery must be performed in accredited facilities only.
  7. The RAC must have close faculty supervision in both the clinic and operating room, including presence at the key components of procedure.
  8. The faculty must establish goals, objectives, and targets for residents; track outcomes; provide regular review; and offer timely feedback.
  9. Real-time evaluation of competencies and milestones must be performed.
  10. The program director should review operative logs to ensure diversity of cases, surgeons, and locations.
  11. The RAC must combine a robust clinic and operative experience with strong educational modules focused on aesthetic surgery, including lectures, indications and outcomes conferences, and a journal club.
  12. The medical director should moderate a formal Resident Clinic Outcomes Conference for the entire division/department, in association with risk management.
  13. The division/department should reinvest net income back into the aesthetic curriculum/program.
  14. The RAC can consider reduced fees to stimulate demand, by decreasing professional fees and charging facility fees high enough to cover overhead.
  15. The RAC should involve residents with strategic marketing of the practice.
  16. The RAC should have a dedicated administrative assistant to help run the program.
  17. Although aesthetic education should begin early in the training program, the RAC should be limited to chief or senior residents in Plastic Surgery.
  18. The educational curriculum should phase in the complexity of the cases as the resident skill set grows (eg, the trainee could start with breast and body procedures and then move to facial procedures).
  19. Trainee experience at the RAC should occur after more traditional aesthetic surgery rotations have been completed and should be considered separate and distinct from faculty practices.
  20. Residents should not be allowed to perform injection of neuromodulators, soft-tissue fillers, or chemical peels in the RAC, which instead should be used as an operative experience, for surgical procedures.
Back to Top | Article Outline

REFERENCES

1. Morrison CM, Rotemberg SC, Moreira-Gonzalez A, et al. A survey of cosmetic surgery training in plastic surgery programs in the United States. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;122:1570–1578
2. Oni G, Ahmad J, Zins JE, et al. Cosmetic surgery training in plastic surgery residency programs in the United States: how have we progressed in the last three years? Aesthet Surg J. 2011;31:445–455
3. Neaman KC, Hill BC, Ebner B, et al. Plastic surgery chief resident clinics: the current state of affairs. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010;126:626–633
4. Pu LL, Thornton BP, Vasconez HC.. The educational value of a resident aesthetic surgery clinic: a 10-year review. Aesthet Surg J. 2006;26:41–44
5. May JW Jr. Aesthetic surgery 101: resident education in aesthetic surgery, the MGH experience. Ann Plast Surg. 2003;50:561–566
6. Momeni A, Goerke SM, Bannasch H, et al. The quality of aesthetic surgery training in plastic surgery residency: a survey among residents in Germany. Ann Plast Surg. 2013;70:704–708
7. Iorio ML, Stolle E, Brown BJ, et al. Plastic surgery training: evaluating patient satisfaction with facial fillers in a resident clinic. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2012;36:1361–1366
8. Freiberg A, Giguère D, Ross DC, et al. Are patients satisfied with results from residents performing aesthetic surgery? Plast Reconstr Surg. 1997;100:1824–1831; discussion 1832
9. Rad A, Burretta KJ, Im J, et al. The chief resident aesthetic surgery clinic: a safe alternative for patients.Abstract presented at the 91st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Plastic SurgeonsApril 2012San Francisco, Calif
10. Pyle JW, Angobaldo JO, Bryant AK, et al. Outcomes analysis of a resident cosmetic clinic: safety and feasibility after 7 years. Ann Plast Surg. 2010;64:270–274
11. Krieger LM, Shaw WW.. Pricing strategy for aesthetic surgery: economic analysis of a resident clinic’s change in fees. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1999;103:695–700
12. Freiberg A.. Challenges in developing resident training in aesthetic surgery. Ann Plast Surg. 1989;22:184–187
13. Bingham HG.. Training in esthetic surgery: some problems encountered in a university program. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1980;65:227–228
14. Schulman NH.. Aesthetic surgical training: the Lenox Hill model. Ann Plast Surg. 1997;38:309–313
15. Linder SA, Mele JA 3rd, Capozzi A.. Teaching aesthetic surgery at the resident level. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 1996;20:351–354
16. Zweifler M, Glasberg SB.. An outcome-based study of aesthetic surgery in a clinic setting. Ann Plast Surg. 2000;44:355–360
17. Rohrich RJ.. The importance of cosmetic plastic surgery education: an evolution. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2000;105:741–742
18. Rao VK, Schmid DB, Hanson SE, et al. Establishing a multidisciplinary academic cosmetic center. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011;128:741e–746e
19. Sullivan CA, Masin J, Maniglia AJ, et al. Complications of rhytidectomy in an otolaryngology training program. Laryngoscope. 1999;109(2 Pt 1):198–203
20. Alam M.. Cosmetic surgery as a revenue engine for academic dermatology. Arch Dermatol. 2000;136:1096–1098
21. Pusic AL, Klassen AF, Scott AM, et al. Development and psychometric evaluation of the FACE-Q satisfaction with appearance scale: a new patient-reported outcome instrument for facial aesthetics patients. Clin Plast Surg. 2013;40:249–260
22. Pusic AL, Lemaine V, Klassen AF, et al. Patient-reported outcome measures in plastic surgery: use and interpretation in evidence-based medicine. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011;127:1361–1367
23. Klassen AF, Cano SJ, Scott A, et al. Measuring patient-reported outcomes in facial aesthetic patients: development of the FACE-Q. Facial Plast Surg. 2010;26:303–309
24. Kosowski TR, McCarthy C, Reavey PL, et al. A systematic review of patient-reported outcome measures after facial cosmetic surgery and/or nonsurgical facial rejuvenation. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2009;123:1819–1827
25. Ching S, Rockwell G, Thoma A, et al. Clinical research in aesthetic surgery. Clin Plast Surg. 2008;35:269–273
26. Ching S, Thoma A, McCabe RE, et al. Measuring outcomes in aesthetic surgery: a comprehensive review of the literature. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003;111:469–480; discussion 481
27. Miller SH.. Competitive forces and academic plastic surgery. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1998;101:1389–1399
28. D’Amico RA, Saltz R, Rohrich RJ, et al. Risks and opportunities for plastic surgeons in a widening cosmetic medicine market: future demand, consumer preferences, and trends in practitioners’ services. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;121:1787–1792
29. Pacella SJ, Comstock MC, Kuzon WM Jr. Facility cost analysis in outpatient plastic surgery: implications for the academic health center. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;121:1479–1488
30. Pacella SJ.. Exceptions to the Stark law: the ambulatory surgery center exemption. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2006;118:822–823
31. Pacella SJ, Comstock M, Kuzon WM Jr. Certificate-of-need regulation in outpatient surgery and specialty care: implications for plastic surgeons. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2005;116:1103–1111; discussion 1112
32. Chivers QJ, Ahmad J, Lista F, et al. Cosmetic surgery training in Canadian plastic surgery residencies: are we training competent surgeons? Aesthet Surg J. 2013;33:160–165

Supplemental Digital Content

Back to Top | Article Outline
© 2015 American Society of Plastic Surgeons