Clinical Exposure to Cardiothoracic Surgery for Medical Students and General Surgery Residents

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BACKGROUND: The introduction of integrated 6-year cardiothoracic surgery (CTS) residency programs has shifted recruitment efforts to encompass not only general surgery (GS) residents, but also medical students.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this paper is to assess medical student and GS resident clinical exposure to CTS.

DESIGN: Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges Visiting Student Application Service and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Case Log Reports were collected from 2010 to 2017 and 2010 to 2018, respectively. The data extracted included medical students who applied and received an offer for elective rotations and the cases performed as a GS resident.

RESULTS: A mean of 95 ± 28.5 medical students applied for CTS rotations annually and the applicants for CTS rotations increased by an average of 11.8% per year. However, significantly less students received an offer compared to other specialties (53.4% CTS vs 74.1% GS, 79.3% plastic surgery, 86.3% urology, 85.7% otolaryngology, 88.6% neurological surgery, and 89.6% orthopedic surgery) (p < 0.001). GS residents performed a mean of 39.3 ± 0.8 CTS procedures during residency: 32.9 ± 1.0 performed as a junior resident and 6.3 ± 0.7 as a chief resident. Out of all CTS procedures, 7.3% were cardiac procedures, with rates increasing from 5.6% to 8.4% during the study period (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Elective rotation opportunities in CTS are high in demand for medical students while GS residents receive limited CTS exposure, especially cardiac cases. Increasing clinical opportunities in both groups will aid in recruiting young talent to the field.

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Journal of Surgical Education

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This article was published in Journal of Surgical Education.

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