Social Problems in Plastic Surgery Residents: A Management Perspective

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It is presumed that plastic surgery residents experience various social problems, just as do their peers in other specialty training programs and in the general public. These issues can occasionally disrupt the resident’s personal training experience and sometimes the program as a whole. A survey was performed to assess the magnitude of the problem, and the issues revealed were assessed to assist the program director and the resident in reaching successful completion of the residency.


A survey was designed by the executive committee and staff of the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons and sent to all plastic surgery training programs in the United States. A response rate of 66 percent was achieved. The programs reported on the social issues occurring in their residents over the preceding 5 years. The results were presented at a business meeting of the Council.


Thirty-seven percent of programs reported that at least one resident had left their program during the study period. Twenty percent reported that a resident had been asked to leave the program. The frequency of social problems resulting in disruption of the training program was tabulated in the following areas: divorce; pregnancy/parturition; financial, legal, or family issues; drug or alcohol abuse; illness/injury; and interpersonal conflicts.


Plastic surgery residents experience social problems that can affect the timely completion of their training. Attention to these issues requires patience, creativity, sensitivity, and a commitment to the residents’ ultimate success, and adherence to institutional, legal, and accreditation body mandates.

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