The Teaching of Ethics and Professionalism in Plastic Surgery Residency: A Cross-Sectional Survey

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The ethical practice of medicine has always been of utmost importance, and plastic surgery is no exception. The literature is devoid of information on the teaching of ethics and professionalism in plastic surgery. In light of this, a survey was sent to ascertain the status of ethics training in plastic surgery residencies.


A 21-question survey was sent from the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons meeting to 180 plastic surgery program directors and coordinators via email. Survey questions inquired about practice environment, number of residents, presence of a formal ethics training program, among others. Binary regression was used to determine if any relationships existed between categorical variables, and Poisson linear regression was used to assess relationships between continuous variables. Statistical significance was set at a P value of 0.05.


A total of 104 members responded to the survey (58% response rate). Sixty-three percent were program directors, and most (89%) practiced in academic settings. Sixty-two percent in academics reported having a formal training program, and 60% in private practice reported having one. Only 40% of programs with fewer than 10 residents had ethics training, whereas 78% of programs with more than 20 residents did. The odds of having a training program were slightly higher (odds ratio, 1.1) with more residents (P = 0.17).


Despite the lack of information in the literature, formal ethics and professionalism training does exist in many plastic surgery residencies, although barriers to implementation do exist. Plastic surgery leadership should be involved in the development of standardized curricula to help overcome these barriers.

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