To determine how marriage, children, and gender influence US categorical general surgery residents' perceptions of their profession and motivations for specialty training.
Cross-sectional national survey administered after the January 2008 American Board of Surgery In-service Training Examination.
Two hundred forty-eight US general surgery residency programs.
All US categorical general surgery residents.
We evaluated demographic characteristics with respect to survey responses using the χ2 test, analysis of variance, and multivariate logistic regression. Interaction terms between variables were assessed.
Main Outcome Measures
Perceptions of respondents regarding the future of general surgery and the role of specialty training in relation to anticipated income and lifestyle.
The survey response rate was 75.0% (4586 respondents). Mean age was 30.6 years; 31.7% were women, 51.3% were married, and 25.4% had children. Of the respondents, 28.7% believed general surgery is becoming obsolete (30.1% of men and 25.9% of women; P = .004), and 55.1% believed specialty training is necessary for success (56.4% of men and 52.7% of women; P = .02). Single residents and residents without children were more likely to plan for fellowship (59.1% single vs 51.9% married, P < .001; 57.0% with no children vs 50.1% with children, P < .001). In our multivariate analyses, male gender was an independent predictor of worry that general surgery is becoming obsolete (P = .003). Female residents who were single or had no children tended to identify lifestyle rather than income as a motivator for specialty training.
Marital status, children, and gender appear to have a powerful effect on general surgery residents' career planning.