To quantify the prevalence, outcomes, and cost of surgical resident research.Summary Background Data:
General surgery is unique among graduate medical education programs because a large percentage of residents interrupt their clinical training to spend 1 to 3 years performing full-time research. No comprehensive data exists on the scope of this practice.Methods:
Survey sent to all 239 program directors of general surgery residencies participating in the National Resident Matching Program.Results:
Response rate was 200 of 239 (84%). A total of 381 of 1052 trainees (36%) interrupt residency to pursue full-time research. The mean research fellowship length is 1.7 years, with 72% of trainees performing basic science research. A significant association was found between fellowship length and postresidency activity, with a 14.7% increase in clinical fellowship training and a 15.2% decrease in private practice positions for each year of full-time research (P < 0.0001). Program directors at 31% of programs reported increased clinical duties for research fellows as a result of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education work hour regulations for clinical residents, whereas a further 10% of programs are currently considering such changes. It costs $41.5 million to pay the 634 trainees who perform research fellowships each year, the majority of which is paid for by departmental funds (40%) and institutional training grants (24%).Conclusions:
Interrupting residency to perform a research fellowship is a common and costly practice among general surgery residents. Although performing a research fellowship is associated with clinical fellowship training after residency, it is unclear to what extent this practice leads to the development of surgical investigators after postgraduate training.