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J Surg Res. 2010 May 1;160(1):14-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2009.03.090. Epub 2009 May 8.

Academic needs in developing countries: a survey of the West African College of Surgeons.

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Division of Pediatric Surgery, New York University School of Medicine, New York 10016, USA.



The inaugural Fundamentals of Surgical Research Course was held in Sierra Leone in conjunction with the West African College of Surgeons (WACS). We subsequently performed a formal assessment of the academic needs of West African surgeons to plan for future courses, and hypothesized that they would differ from the goals of the U.S. course.


A survey was distributed via email to members of the WACS and returned by the same mechanism. It consisted of 6 questions addressing specific elements of the inaugural course, and potential new topics for future courses.


Over half (53%, 25/47) of the respondents had not attended the inaugural course, while 85% (40/47) planned on attending the next course. Respondents identified least useful topics from the initial course as "Molecular Biology: Tools of the Trade" (45%, 21/47) and "Getting Promoted" (23%, 11/47). The least popular potential new topics were "Use and Abuse of Administrative Databases" (9%, 4/47), "Animal Models" (21%, 10/47), and "Genomics and Proteomics" (21%, 10/47).


The self-reported academic needs of West African surgeons are oriented toward clinical research. Basic and translational research topics are of secondary interest to the majority of respondents. Future courses in this region must address specific local needs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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