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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2018 Jun;141(6):950e-958e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000004414.

Pathways to Academic Leadership in Plastic Surgery: A Nationwide Survey of Program Directors, Division Chiefs, and Department Chairs of Plastic Surgery.

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Pittsburgh, Pa. From the Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.



Many aspire to leadership in academic plastic surgery yet there is no well-documented pathway.


Information regarding plastic surgery residencies and program directors was obtained from the American Medical Association's FREIDA database. The division chief or department chair (academic head) of every academic plastic surgery program was identified. One Internet-based survey was distributed to academic heads; another, to program directors.


Ninety academic heads were identified, 35 of whom also serve as program director. Sixty-seven unique program directors were identified. There was a 51 percent academic head response rate and a 65 percent program director response rate. Academic plastic surgery is overwhelmingly administered by midcareer men. The average program director was appointed at age 45 and has served for 7 years. She or he was trained through the independent track, completed additional training in hand surgery, and is a full professor. She or he publishes two or three peer-reviewed manuscripts per year and spends 9 hours per week in administration. The average academic head was appointed at age 45 and has held the position for 12 years. She or he was trained in the independent model, completed fellowship training, and is a full professor. She or he publishes five peer-reviewed manuscripts per year and spends 12 hours per week involved in administration.


Program directors and academic heads serve nonoverlapping roles. Few program directors will advance to the role of academic head. Successful applicants to the program director position often serve as an associate program director and are seen as motivated resident educators. In contrast, those faculty members selected for the academic head role are academically accomplished administrators with business acumen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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