• Currently, several specialties (cardiothoracic, pediatric, and colorectal) require a full general surgery residency before specialty training. Plastic surgery has, in essence, a de facto requirement since most residents have had at least 5 years of general surgery training before initiation of a plastic surgery residency. Forces within both general surgery and plastic surgery will dictate that such a de facto requirement will not persist in the future. The pressures that compel plastic surgery to modify the traditional role of general surgery as preparatory training for requisite or specialty residency training can be extended by analogy to the other specialties as well. This article will hypothesize that the premises and the conclusions about the relationship between plastic surgery and general surgery apply equally well to the other specialties. If the traditional and historical role of full general surgery residency as prerequisite training for a specialty residency is discarded, careful thought must be given to any substitute system of graduate surgical education. In particular, attention must be directed to the three components of clinical skills to be acquired and to an expectation of operative or technical experience.
(Arch Surg. 1993;128:134-137)