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J Am Coll Surg. 2007 Jul;205(1):162-8. Epub 2007 May 17.

International experience, electives, and volunteerism in surgical training: a survey of resident interest.

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1
Department of Surgery, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA. powela01@med.nyu.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Sustainable international surgery expertise is more frequently being discussed in the US surgical community. At the resident level, there is discussion about incorporating international experience into residency training, but current opportunities for residents are limited and often require personal funding and use of vacation time. This study analyzed resident interest in acquiring international experience.

STUDY DESIGN:

A structured questionnaire was administered anonymously to all New York University general surgery residents. The questionnaire elicited demographic information and information about interest in an international surgery elective and future volunteerism. Descriptive statistics and chi-square analyses were performed for the completed data.

RESULTS:

Fifty-two of 63 residents (82.5%) completed surveys. Fifty-one residents (98%) were interested in an international elective, and 38 residents (73%) would prioritize such an elective over all other electives. Twenty-three (44%) and 25 (48%) residents would be willing to use vacation and finance the elective, respectively. The most frequent expectations of international training were acquiring technical and clinical skills (94% of residents) and cultural skills (88%). Residents believed financial difficulties and scheduling conflicts were the most significant barriers to international training (82% and 53%, respectively). Thirty-two residents (62%) planned to incorporate volunteer work into their future practice. Chi-square analyses revealed a significant relationship between residents who would prioritize international training and those who planned to incorporate volunteerism into their future practice (p<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS:

International training represents an opportunity for US surgical education to provide residents with broader clinical expertise and increased cultural awareness. Our data suggest that surgical residents at NYU are strongly interested in acquiring this experience and that international training may provide an opportunity to encourage lifelong volunteerism. National study of US residents and faculty is warranted to further investigate these conclusions.

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