The 2010 Thoracic Surgery Residents Association Workforce Survey Report: A View From the Trenches*

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Abstract

Background

Workforce estimates suggest 11% of general surgery residents are considering careers in cardiothoracic (CT) surgery. In an effort to identify areas for programmatic improvement, we examined trends in thoracic surgery residents' perspectives on training and employment.

Methods

Results from the 2010 Thoracic Surgery Residents Association workforce survey were analyzed. The survey was administered to all trainees in North America during the annual in-service exam. Longitudinal trends from 2006 to 2010 are reported.

Results

Of 299 respondents, 76% (228 of 299) were US citizens. The most common determinants in choosing CT surgery were types of cases (123 of 299, 41%) and mentorship (95 of 299, 32%). Sixty-five percent (193 of 299) would recommend CT surgery to potential trainees. While 81% (242 of 299) felt they would be adequately trained in their program, 39% (118 of 299) planned additional fellowship training. Only 23% (70 of 299) felt the 80-hour work week had a positive impact on training. Of residents seeking jobs, 68% (62 of 92) received 2 or more job interviews and 70% (69 of 99) more than 1 job offer. Seventeen percent (16 of 92) had no offers. While 45% (51 of 114) reported still searching for employment, 20% (23 of 114) had accepted private practice positions, 25% (29 of 114) academic positions, and 6% (7 of 114) fellowship positions. Education-related debt was greater than $100,000 in 46% (140 of 299) and greater than $200,000 in 17% (52 of 299). From 2007 to 2010, CT residents reporting debt greater than $200,000 rose from 8% to 17%. Accepted fellowship training positions dropped to 6% in 2010 compared with 13% and 15% in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Conclusions

Diminished CT job opportunities remain a concern. There are concerning trends in debt accrual and perceptions of work-hour restrictions on quality of training. These data justify further investigation into areas of improvement in CT training.

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