Surgical residents who are single or do not have children are more likely to plan for specialty fellowships, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Graduate surgical education has changed significantly in recent decades, according to background information in the article. "Specialization is a growing trend that might jeopardize the future of general surgery," the authors write. "Research has demonstrated that it likely results from multiple factors, including the changing demographics of medical schools and surgery residency programs, residency type (academic vs. community setting) and early exposure through research performed during residency."
Kate V. Viola, M.D., of the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and colleagues conducted a national survey of general surgery residents in January 2008. A total of 4,586 responded (75 percent). Participants were asked about their reasons for pursuing surgery as a career, their views on specialization, self-assessments of their performance and perceptions of the current and future status of general surgery.
Residents who responded were an average of 30.6 years old, and 31.7 percent were female. The researchers found that:
"This study raises interesting questions regarding trainees' beliefs and intent to seek specialty training," the authors conclude. "Each fellowship experience is unique and provides varying potential for income and lifestyle flexibility. More research is needed to stratify resident characteristics associated with considering postresidency training and the impact of marriage and children on the rigors of residency and fellowship."
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