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Fellow or foe: the impact of fellowship training programs on the education of Canadian urology residents.

Grober ED, et al. Can Urol Assoc J. 2008.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Throughout North America, increasing emphasis is being placed on surgical fellowships. Surgical educators and trainees have raised concerns that the escalating focus on fellowships may threaten the educational mission of more novice trainees. Our objective was to collect opinions from multiple perspectives (faculty, fellows and residents) regarding fellowship structure, fellow selection and the impact of clinical fellowships on urology resident training.

METHODS: We anonymously surveyed 52 members of a major academic urology training program (University of Toronto) with established fellowship training programs for their opinions regarding fellowship structure, fellow selection, and the impact on resident training and education.

RESULTS: The overall response rate was 88%. We identified significant differences of opinion among faculty, fellows and residents regarding fellowship structure, fellow selection and the impact on resident education. Specifically, faculty and fellows supported the addition of more fellows, felt that certain complex cases should be designated as "fellow cases" and that residents' research opportunities were not restricted. Residents felt that fellows "steal" operative cases, that performing operations with the fellow is not equivalent to performing operations with faculty alone and that fellowship candidates should perform an operation with division faculty as part of the application process. There was agreement that fellowship programs add value to residents' overall education, that fellows should participate in the call schedule and that fellows' role in the operating room needs to be better defined with respect to case volume and selection. Proficiency in technical skills, clinical knowledge, teaching and teamwork were cited as the most attractive characteristics of an effective clinical fellow.

CONCLUSION: Residency and fellowship program directors must clearly define the role of the fellow and outline the limits of surgical practice, establish clear and consistent guidelines outlining responsibilities (operative, clinical and on-call), and open lines of communication to ensure that all opinions are recognized and addressed. Finally, they must select fellows with proficient technical skills, clinical knowledge, teaching ability and work ethic to ensure that they focus on "specialized" training.

PMID

18542725 []

PMCID

PMC2422895

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