Influence of Trainee Experience on Choice of Orthopaedic Subspecialty Fellowship

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Abstract

Introduction:

Most orthopaedic surgery residents elect to pursue additional subspecialty training; however, factors influencing the choice of subspecialty and the ways that these factors change during training are not well understood. The aim of this investigation was to determine, on the basis of a trainee’s postgraduate year (PGY), whether variability exists in factors valued when choosing a specific subspecialty.

Methods:

We emailed an online survey (intended for distribution to current trainees) to a list of orthopaedic surgery residency program coordinators in the United States. The survey queried demographic information, PGY level, and the importance of 14 discrete factors in the selection of fellowship specialty according to a Likert scale rating from 1 to 4.

Results:

There were 359 respondents representing an even distribution of PGY levels. Junior trainees assigned greater relative value to geographic location, on-call responsibilities, financial compensation, and the tradition of the residency program, whereas senior trainees assigned greater relative value to variety of cases and intellectual stimulation (all P < 0.05).

Discussion:

The differences seen in factors valued based on trainee experience may highlight the relative importance of greater exposure to the breadth of orthopaedic surgical practice during training and increasing awareness of clinical competencies and responsibilities.

Conclusions:

When deciding on orthopaedic subspecialty choice, junior trainees value lifestyle factors relatively more than do senior trainees, whereas senior trainees value case variety and stimulation relatively more than junior trainees do.

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