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American Association of Plastic Surgeons
21. Short-Track Training Programs in Plastic Surgery
Raffy L. Karamanoukian, MD, Gregory RD Evans, MD.
University of California, Irvine, Orange, CA, USA.


PURPOSE: Over the last two decades, many academic plastic surgery programs have decreased the number of traditional training positions in favor of the combined or integrated training format. Comparative outcome studies between traditional and short-track training programs have yet to be performed. The following study was designed to evaluate current trends in plastic surgery training among academic plastic surgery chairmen in the United States.
METHODS: Academic chairmen in plastic surgery were anonymously surveyed to assess current perceptions regarding traditional versus combined or integrated training programs. The survey focused on qualitative differences among residents in these various training formats, as well as the overall effectiveness of each system.
RESULTS: A total of 47 out of 91 surveys were received (52%). Ninety-eight percent of respondents were at or above the faculty level of Associate Professor. Of the 47 respondents, 28 are involved in an integrated/combined program (60%) versus 19 with traditional programs (40%). The majority of all programs (85%) were not planning to increase the number of integrated/combined positions. Within the integrated/combined programs, 57% had all their residency positions filled by integrated/combined residents and 43% had a combination of integrated/combined residents and traditional residents. When asked to compare by year of plastic surgery training integrated/combined residents and board eligible general surgery residents, respondents from integrated/combined programs thought operative judgment was comparable (46%), 43% thought there were differences, while 11% thought it was resident dependent. From traditional programs, 68% thought that operative judgment was not comparable while 32% were unable to compare. In judging technical prowess, the majority of respondents from integrated/combined programs thought their skills were comparable (57%), while a minority thought there were differences (32%) and 11% thought it was resident dependent. From traditional programs, 11% thought technical prowess was comparable, 58% thought there were differences and 32% were unable to compare. 56% of all respondents would advise a student interested in an academic career to enter an integrated/combined program, but the percentages differ between chairmen from integrated/combined programs (76%) and chairmen from a traditional program (26%).
CONCLUSIONS: There has been a strong trend towards short-tracking plastic surgery training through the combined or integrated clinical training format. Among respondents, there is little consensus whether there are qualitative differences in operative judgement and technical prowess among residents in traditional vs. short-track resident trainees. However, the majority of chairmen would advise students interested in an academic career to enter an integrated/combined program.


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