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Program Directors’ Perspective of Transplant Training during General Surgery Residency

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In 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) began to mandate “a formal transplant experience” rather than a formal rotation to allow programs more flexibility. What constitutes a “transplant experience” or how to optimize such education remains unclear. The objectives of this study were to identify changes in residents' transplant exposure and determine the opinions of program directors (PDs) in response to the new requirements. A 15-item questionnaire was sent to all general surgery PDs. Demographics, resident experiences, and PDs’ opinions regarding transplant rotations were collected. The response rate was 50 per cent from university and community programs at transplant and nontransplant centers. Although 55 per cent of PDs felt transplant should not be a required rotation, 92 per cent of programs reported having a formal rotation. Transplant rotations should be four months or less, according to 97 per cent of PDs. Most PDs (93%) think there should not be a minimum number of required transplant operations. Whether residencies were based at transplant centers or size of residencies did not affect PDs’ responses. Transplant requirements were similar between residency programs regardless of PD opinions. Survey participants provided diverse feedback regarding this controversial topic. The new ACGME requirements have made little impact on program requirements. Most programs still mandate a formal transplant rotation. Diverse opinions exist regarding whether such a rotation should be required, highlighting the controversial nature of this issue. To facilitate education in an era of limited work hours, the ACGME changed requirements of general surgery programs to mandate “a formal transplant experience” rather than a transplant rotation. A survey of program directors revealed that although only 45 per cent of support mandatory transplant rotations, 93 per cent of programs still require transplant rotations despite the more lax ACGME requirements. This finding suggests a lack of suitable alternative to provide exposure to the concepts fundamental to transplant surgery, which are valuable in general surgery education.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Providence Hospital and Medical Centers, Southfield, Michigan, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2014

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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