The introduction of new technologies has shifted some resident index procedures to nonsurgical specialists. We examined the operative case volume of thoracic surgery residents during the last 6 years to objectively identify changes and trends.Methods:
Program and resident data from 2002 to 2007 were entered into a database and analyzed. Program match information was obtained from the National Resident Matching Program. Resident operative experience and board examination results were obtained from the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.Results:
A total of 795 residents qualified for the written American Board of Thoracic Surgery examination; 627 residents graduated from 2-year programs, and 168 residents graduated from 3-year programs. The total number of resident cases was higher in 3-year programs compared with 2-year programs in all 10 index categories studied (P < .01). The total volume of cases has not significantly increased in 2-year programs. The volume of coronary artery bypass graft surgeries decreased in every resident program model studied. The volume of general thoracic cases increased in all program models. Two-year, 2-resident programs had the lowest volume in 5 of the 10 categories, reaching significance in 3 categories. The written board pass rate was lower among 2-year programs than among 3-year programs (86% vs 95%, respectively, P = .003).Conclusion:
Training programs have so far weathered the storm by maintaining index volume with a new case mix, but significant trends in revascularization procedures are concerning. This study indicates a significant advantage in case volume and board pass rates among 3-year programs. Thoracic residency programs should be reorganized so that the number of residents does not exceed the capacity of the program to provide a meaningful experience.