Status of Anesthesiology Resident Research Education in the United States: Structured Education Programs Increase Resident Research Productivity

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BACKGROUND:The enhancement of resident research education has been proposed to increase the number of academic anesthesiologists with the skills and knowledge to conduct meaningful research. Program directors (PDs) of the U.S. anesthesiology residency programs were surveyed to evaluate the status of research education during residency training and to test the hypothesis that structured programs result in greater resident research productivity based on resident publications.METHODS:Survey responses were solicited from 131 anesthesiology residency PDs. Seventy-four percent of PDs responded to the survey. Questions evaluated department demographic information, the extent of faculty research activity, research resources and research funding in the department, the characteristics of resident research education and resident research productivity, departmental support for resident research, and perceived barriers to resident research education.RESULTS:Thirty-two percent of programs had a structured resident research education program. Structured programs were more likely to be curriculum based, require resident participation in a research project, and provide specific training in presentation and writing skills. Productivity expectations were similar between structured and nonstructured programs. Forty percent of structured programs had > 20% of trainees with a publication in the last 2 years compared with 14% of departments with unstructured programs (difference, 26%; 99% confidence interval [CI], 8%–51%; P = 0.01). The percentage of programs that had research rotations for ≥2 months was not different between the structured and the nonstructured programs. A research rotation of >2 months did not increase the percentage of residents who had published an article within the last 2 months compared with a research rotation of <2 months (difference, 13%; 99% CI, 10%–37%; P = 0.14). There was no difference in the percentage of faculty involved in research in structured compared with unstructured research education. In programs with <20% of faculty involved in research, 15% reported >20% of residents with a publication in the last 2 years compared with 36% in programs with >20% of faculty involvement (difference, 21%; 99% CI, –4% to 46%; P = 0.03).CONCLUSIONS:Our findings suggest that structured residency research programs are associated with higher resident research productivity. The program duration and the fraction of faculty in resident research education did not significantly increase research productivity. Research training is an integral component of resident education, but the mandatory enhancement of resident research education will require a significant change in the culture of academic anesthesiology leadership and faculty.

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