Progressive Surgical Autonomy in a Plastic Surgery Resident Clinic

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Resident clinics are thought to catalyze educational milestone achievement through opportunities for progressively autonomous surgical care, but studies are lacking for general plastic surgery resident clinics (PSRCs). We demonstrate the achievement of increased surgical autonomy and continuity of care in a PSRC.


A retrospective review of all patients seen in a PSRC from October 1, 2010, to October 1, 2015, was conducted. Our PSRC is supervised by faculty plastic surgery attendings, though primarily run by chief residents in an accredited independent plastic surgery training program. Surgical autonomy was scored on a 5-point scale based on dictated operative reports. Graduated chief residents were additionally surveyed by anonymous online survey.


Thousand one hundred forty-four patients were seen in 3,390 clinic visits. Six hundred fifty-three operations were performed by 23 total residents, including 10 graduating chiefs. Senior resident autonomy averaged 3.5/5 (SD = 1.5), 3.6/5 (SD = 1.5), to 3.8/5 (SD = 1.3) in postgraduate years 6, 7, and 8, respectively. A linear mixed model analysis demonstrated that training level had a significant impact on operative autonomy when comparing postgraduate years 6 and 8 (P = 0.026). Graduated residents’ survey responses (N = 10; 100% response rate) regarded PSRC as valuable for surgical experience (4.1/5), operative autonomy (4.4/5), medical knowledge development (4.7/5), and the practice of Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education core competencies (4.3/5). Preoperative or postoperative continuity of care was maintained in 93.5% of cases.


The achievement of progressive surgical autonomy may be demonstrated within a PSRC model.

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