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J Surg Educ. 2017 Sep 26. pii: S1931-7204(17)30431-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2017.08.014. [Epub ahead of print]

Associate Program Directors in Surgery: A Select Group of Surgical Educators.

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Department of Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California. Electronic address:
University of Indiana, Indianapolis, Indiana.
University of California, Riverside, Riverside, California.
University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon.
University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.



The role of the Associate Program Director (APD) within surgical education is not clearly defined or regulated by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, often leading to variations in the responsibilities among institutions. Required credentials are not specified and compensation and protected time are not regulated resulting in large discrepancies among institutions. APDs are brought into the fold of surgical education to parcel out the escalating responsibilities of program director (PD). The Association of Program Directors in Surgery, Associate Program Directors Committee sent a survey to all APDs to better understand the role of the APDs within the hierarchy of surgical education.


A survey was sent to all 235 general surgery residency programs through the Association of Program Directors in Surgery list serve. The survey collected information on APD demographics, characteristics, and program information, qualifications of the APD, time commitment and compensation, administrative duties, and projected career track.


General surgery residency programs within the United States.


108 Associate Program Directors in general surgery RESULTS: A total of 108 (46%) APDs responded to the survey. Seventy-three (70.2%) of the APD's were males. Most (77.8%) were in practice for more than 5 years, and 69% were at a university-based program. Most of the respondents felt that the administrative and curricular tasks were appropriately distributed between the APD and PD and many shared tasks with the PD. A total of 44.6% were on the path to become a future PD at their institution. An equal number of APDs (42.6%) were compensated above their base salary for being an APD vs no compensation at all; however, 16 (14.8%) had a reduced clinical load as part of their compensation for being an APD.


This is the first study to describe the characteristics of APDs within the hierarchy of surgical education. Our data demonstrate that APDs have a substantial role in the function of a residency program and they need to be developed to better define their position in the program leadership.


ACGME requirements; Associate Program Directors; administrative duties; general surgery residency; surgical education

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