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J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2017 Mar;82(3):470-480. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000001351.

Is your graduating general surgery resident qualified to take trauma call? A 15-year appraisal of the changes in general surgery education for trauma.

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From the Division of Trauma, Acute Care Surgery, Surgical Critical Care, LAC+USC Medical Center, Los Angeles, California.



Trauma training in general surgery residency is undergoing an evolution. Hour restrictions, the growth of subspecialty care, and the trend toward nonoperative management have altered resident exposure to operative trauma. We sought to identify trends in resident trauma training since the inception of the 80-hour workweek.


The Accreditation Council for General Medical Education Case Log Statistical Reports for Surgery was abstracted for general surgery resident trauma operative volume for the years 1999-2014. Resident trauma experience (operative caseload [OC]) was compared before inception of the 80-hour workweek (1999-2002) to after the 80-hour workweek began (2003 to current).


A trend toward decreased operative trauma for general surgery residents was observed (mean OC [before 80-hour workweek vs. 80-hour workweek], 39,252 ± 1,065.2 cases vs. 36,065 ± 1,291.8; p = 0.06). Trauma laparotomies increased (range, 5,446-9,364 cases) with corresponding decreases in vascular trauma (4,704 to 799 cases), neck explorations (1,876 to 1,370 cases), and thoracotomies (2,507 to 2,284 cases). By comparison, an increase in vascular/integrated cases was noted (mean OC [before 80-hour workweek vs. 80-hour workweek], 845 ± 44.2 vs. 1,465 ± 88.4 cases; p < 0.01). Resident deficiencies analyzed by time period (before 80-hour workweek vs. 80-hour workweek) demonstrated deficiencies in thoracic, abdominal, solid organ, and extremity-vascular trauma domains (p < 0.01 for each). Nontrauma cases were also on the decline, specifically in open thoracic, vascular, and solid organ surgery (p < 0.05 for each). Both 1- and 2-year fellowships offset deficiencies in trauma education.


Based on the data, an alarming number of graduates complete training with substantially less experience in defined trauma categories. Because of a decline in operative trauma volume, advanced fellowship training should be encouraged specifically for those interested in a career in trauma and acute care surgery.

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