The Current State of Global Surgery Training in Plastic Surgery Residency

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The current state of global surgery training in U.S. plastic surgery residency programs remains largely undefined.


An electronic survey was distributed to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education–certified plastic surgery residency programs. Programs with global health curricula were queried regarding classification, collaboration details, regions visited, conditions/procedures encountered, costs, accreditation, and personal sentiment. Residencies without global health curricula were asked to select barriers.


Sixty-four of 81 residency programs returned questionnaires (response rate, 79 percent). Twenty-six programs (41 percent) reported including a formal global health curriculum; 38 did not (59 percent). When asked to classify this curriculum, most selected clinical care experience [n = 24 (92 percent)], followed by educational experience [n = 19 (73 percent)]. Personal reference was the most common means of establishing the international collaboration [n = 19 (73 percent)]. The most commonly encountered conditions were cleft lip–cleft palate [n = 26 (100 percent)], thermal injury [n = 17 (65 percent)], and posttraumatic reconstruction [n = 15 (57 percent)]. Dominant funding sources were primarily nonprofit organizations [n = 14 (53 percent)]. Although the majority of programs had not applied for residency review committee accreditation [n = 23 (88 percent)], many considered applying [n = 16 (62 percent)]. Overall, 96 percent of programs (n = 25) supported global health training in residency, choosing exposure to different health systems [n = 22 (88 percent)] and surgical education [n = 17 (68 percent)] as reasons. Programs not offering a global health experience most commonly reported lack of residency review committee/plastic surgery operative log recognition of cases performed abroad [n = 27 (71 percent)], funding for trip expenses [n = 25 (66 percent)], and salary support [n = 24 (63 percent)] as barriers.


Residencies incorporating global health training describe the experience positively. Funding and case accreditation are the major obstacles to implementing these curricula.

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