Is there an impending loss of academically productive trauma surgical faculty? An analysis of 4,015 faculty

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this work was to compare the academic impact of trauma surgery faculty relative to faculty in general surgery and other surgery subspecialties.

METHODS

Scholarly metrics were determined for 4,015 faculty at the top 50 National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded university-based departments and five hospital-based surgery departments.

RESULTS

Overall, 317 trauma surgical faculty (8.2%) were identified. This compared to 703 other general surgical faculty (18.2%) and 2,830 other subspecialty surgical faculty (73.5%). The average size of the trauma surgical division was six faculty. Overall, 43% were assistant professors, 29% were associate professors, and 28% were full professors, while 3.1% had PhD, 2.5% had MD and PhD, and, 16.3% were division chiefs/directors. Compared with general surgery, there were no differences regarding faculty academic levels or leadership positions. Other surgical specialties had more full professors (39% vs. 28%; p < 0.05) and faculty with research degrees (PhD, 7.7%; and MD and PhD, 5.7%). Median publications/citations were lower, especially for junior trauma surgical faculty (T) compared with general surgery (G) and other (O) surgical specialties: assistant professors (T, 9 publications/76 citations vs. G, 13/138, and O, 18/241; p < 0.05), associate professors (T, 22/351 vs. G, 36/700, and O, 47/846; p < 0.05), and professors (T, 88/2,234 vs. G, 93/2193; p = NS [not significant for either publications/citations] and O, 99/2425; p = NS). Publications/Citations for division chiefs/directors were comparable with other specialties: T, 77/1,595 vs. G, 103/2,081 and O, 74/1,738; p = NS, but were lower for all nonchief faculty; T, 23/368 vs. G, 30/528 and O, 37/658; p < 0.05. Trauma surgical faculty were less likely to have current or former NIH funding than other surgical specialties (17 % vs. 27%; p < 0.05), and this included a lower rate of R01/U01/P01 funding (5.5% vs. 10.8%; p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Senior trauma surgical faculty are as academically productive as other general surgical faculty and other surgical specialists. Junior trauma faculty, however, publish at a lower rate than other general surgery or subspecialty faculty. Causes of decreased academic productivity and lower NIH funding must be identified, understood, and addressed.

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