The impact of The Royal College of Surgeons of England research fellowship scheme

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The research fellowship scheme for surgeons in training run by The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) had its 20th anniversary in 2013. A survey was undertaken to assess outcomes of the scheme during those 20 years.


Fellowship recipients were invited to complete an online 20-item questionnaire about their fellowship research and research activities since its completion. The questionnaire covered type of research undertaken, higher research degree enrolment, publications resulting from the fellowship research and subsequent research career.


Of the 502 RCS fellowship recipients, 361 responded (72%). Their research covered a broad array of topics, Almost two-thirds (62%) undertook laboratory-based research and most of the remainder conducted patient-based clinical research. The vast majority (96%) of respondents had enrolled for a higher degree, with a high completion rate: 91% of fellowship recipients in the first 15 years of the scheme obtained their degree. Of the fellowships from the first 15 years of the scheme, between a fifth and a third of recipients subsequently held an academic position. The median number of peer reviewed articles and presentations per recipient was 3 and 6 respectively. Almost two-thirds (60%) of respondents had obtained funding for further research, with over half of these receiving grants from national research funding bodies.


The RCS research fellowship scheme has helped trainee surgeons to undertake research towards the start of their career. Most trainees used RCS fellowships as part of their funding towards a higher degree and this was regularly achieved, along with a number of peer reviewed publications. A significant proportion of fellowship recipients progressed into academic positions in surgery.

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