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Can J Surg. 2012 Aug;55(4):S191-9. doi: 10.1503/cjs.005411.

Surgical residency training and international volunteerism: a national survey of residents from 2 surgical specialties.

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Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario.



Many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) lack basic surgical resources, resulting in avoidable disability and mortality. Recently, residents in surgical training programs have shown increasing interest in overseas elective experiences to assist surgical programs in LMICs. The purpose of this study was to survey Canadian surgical residents about their interest in international volunteerism.


We sent a web-based survey to all general and orthopedic surgery residents enrolled in surgical training programs in Canada. The survey assessed residents' interests, attitudes and motivations, and perceived barriers and aids with respect to international volunteerism.


In all, 361 residents completed the survey for a response rate of 38.0%. Half of the respondents indicated that the availability of an international surgery elective would have positively influenced their selection of a residency program. Excluding the 18 residents who had volunteered during residency, 63.8% of the remaining residents confirmed an interest in international volunteering with "contributing to an important cause," "teaching" and "tourism/cultural enhancement" as the leading reasons for their interest. Perceived barriers included "lack of financial support" and "lack of available organized opportunities." All (100%) respondents who had done an international elective during residency confirmed that they would pursue such work in the future.


Administrators of Canadian surgical programs should be aware of strong resident interest in global health care and accordingly develop opportunities by encouraging faculty mentorships and resources for global health teaching.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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