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J Surg Educ. 2017 Aug 3. pii: S1931-7204(17)30251-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2017.07.008. [Epub ahead of print]

"Taking Training to the Next Level": The American College of Surgeons Committee on Residency Training Survey.

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Department of Surgery, York Hospital/WellSpan Health, York, Pennsylvania. Electronic address:
Division of Education, American College of Surgeons, Chicago, Illinois.
Department of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.



The American College of Surgeons (ACS) appointed a committee of leaders from the ACS, Association of Program Directors in Surgery, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and American Board of Surgery to define key challenges facing surgery resident training programs and to explore solutions. The committee wanted to solicit the perspectives of surgery resident program directors (PDs) given their pivotal role in residency training.


Two surveys were developed, pilot tested, and administered to PDs following Institutional Review Board approval. PDs from 247 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited general surgery programs were randomized to receive 1 of the 2 surveys. Bias analyses were conducted, and adjusted Pearson χ2 tests were used to test for differences in response patterns by program type and size.


All accredited general surgery programs in the United States were included in the sampling frame of the survey; 10 programs with initial or withdrawn accreditation were excluded from the sampling frame.


A total of 135 PDs responded, resulting in a 54.7% response rate (Survey A: n = 67 and Survey B: n = 68). The respondent sample was determined to be representative of program type and size.


Nearly 52% of PD responses were from university-based programs, and 41% had over 6 residents per graduating cohort. More than 61% of PDs reported that, compared to 10 years ago, both entering and graduating residents are less prepared in technical skills. PDs expressed significant concerns regarding the effect of duty-hour restrictions on the overall preparation of graduating residents (61%) and quality of patient care (57%). The current 5-year training structure was viewed as needing a significant or extensive increase in opportunities for resident autonomy (63%), and the greatest barriers to resident autonomy were viewed to be patient preferences not to be cared for by residents (68%), liability concerns (68%), and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulations (65%). Although 64% of PDs believe that moderate or significant changes are needed in the current structure of residency training, 35% believe that no changes in the structure are needed. When asked for their 1 best recommendation regarding the structure of surgical residency, only 22% of PDs selected retaining the current 5-year structure. The greatest percentage of PDs (28%) selected the "4 + 2" model as their 1 best recommendation for the structure to be used. In the area of faculty development, 56% of PDs supported a significant or extensive increase in Train the Teacher programs, and 41% supported a significant or extensive increase in faculty certification in education.


Information regarding the valuable perspectives of PDs gathered through these surveys should help in implementing important changes in residency training and faculty development. These efforts will need to be pursued collaboratively with involvement of key stakeholders, including the organizations represented on this ACS committee.


Patient care; autonomy; faculty development; medical knowledge; personal and communication skills; practice based learning and improvement; professionalism; program directors; residency structure; resident preparedness; resources; system based practice

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