To characterize the career choices and developments made by leading senior surgeons in this country and to examine hypothetically whether application of a short tracking program would have hindered their career decisions.
A survey pertaining to each surgeon's career, decisions, and opinions concerning surgical training.
Setting and Participants
Senior surgeons of regional and national surgical societies.
Main Outcome Measure
A total of 352 surveys (41.4%) were received. Respondents answered that the most common reasons for choosing a specialty were role models or mentors (56%), research (51%), and available patient population (23%). The 2 most common stages in a career at which the respondents became interested in a specialty, or an area of expertise, were at the junior residency level (when the specialty was chosen) and at the assistant professor level (when a more specific topic within the specialty was chosen). The most common stage at which the group believed they acquired their expertise was also at the assistant professor level. Seventy-one percent of respondents believed broad training was superior to a short tracking system, although none had participated in shortened surgical training.
Most leading senior surgeons in this country still believe that broad surgical training is superior and should be maintained. Because career specialties in this surveyed group were generally chosen in early residency, a hypothetical application of the short tracking system would have still allowed for these important decisions to be made. Also, it seems likely that specialty and career development would not have been hindered because "expertization" mostly occurred after training was completed. Regardless of training method, a role model or mentor seems most important in career choices and developments.