A Modern Appraisal of Current Vascular Surgery Education

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Journal of Vascular Surgery


Objective: Although general program requirements and curriculum content outlines are provided by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Association for Program Directors in Vascular Surgery, and Vascular Surgery Board of the American Board of Surgery, there is no single format for delivery of this content. The delivery of these defined educational components is, thus, likely to differ from site to site. The curriculum committee of the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery was tasked with formalizing the content of the Vascular Surgery Surgical Council on Resident Education curriculum modules, and, therefore, we sought to appraise the current status of vascular educational programs in U.S. training programs before its implementation. Methods: Program directors (PDs) of 112 U.S. vascular surgery residency and fellowship training programs were contacted via email and asked to participate in an anonymous electronic survey. This survey evaluated the educational components of individual programs, including vascular specific conferences, use of other training modalities, and determination of who was involved in the creation of these programs. Results: Of the 112 PDs offered the survey, 80 (71%) responded. Most (42 of 80; 53%) have both an integrated vascular residency and a fellowship with the remaining being solely fellowship (31 of 80; 39%) or integrated residencies (7 of 80; 9%). The majority (79 of 81; 98%) of programs hold at least one vascular conference per week, with 75% (60 of 81) holding more than one each week. The total time spent in conference averaged 2.6 hours/wk, and the most common educational components of the weekly conferences were review of upcoming (48 of 79, 61%) or recently completed surgical cases (30 of 79; 38%), lectures on vascular disease processes (40 of 79; 51%), and review of book chapters from vascular surgery textbooks (27 of 78; 35%). PDs are responsible for creating the schedule at 50% (39 of 78) of the programs with most remaining programs relying on trainees (18 of 78; 23%) and assistant PDs (17 of 78; 22%). Vascular trainees present the majority of material at most programs' conferences (64 of 77; 83%). The majority of PDs feel that trainees should independently study 4 hours or more per week (51 of 79; 65%), but only 25% (20 of 79) believe that trainees actually spend this amount of time studying (P =.0001). Only 13 of 80 (16%) programs currently use a preformatted standardized vascular curriculum, but 64 of 80 (80%) believe that there is a need for the creation of this product and 72 of 80 (90%) would most likely use it. Conclusions: There is a significant variation in vascular surgery educational programs with considerable dependence on trainees to create the curriculum. The majority of PDs in vascular surgery support the creation of a standardized vascular curriculum and would use it if made.

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