Survey of Hand Surgeons Regarding Their Perceived Needs for an Expanded Upper Extremity Fellowship

Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Division of Plastic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. Electronic address: .
The Journal of hand surgery (Impact Factor: 1.67). 11/2012; 37(11):2374-2380.e3. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2012.08.013
Source: PubMed


To survey practicing hand surgeons regarding their perceived need for an expanded upper extremity fellowship.
Electronic surveys were sent to 248 surgeons who had completed a hand surgery fellowship between 2008 and 2010. The survey was structured to ascertain whether there was a need for expanded education encompassing the entire upper extremity. Four separate mailings were made. Of the 248 surgeons who were sent the survey, 131 (53%) responded. Of the respondents, 74% (97) were trained in orthopedics, 16% (21) in plastic surgery, and 10% (13) in general surgery.
Of the 131 respondents, 7% (9) felt that 1 year of specialty training was insufficient, 48% (63) had sought shoulder and elbow training in their fellowship, and 52% (68) did not have dedicated plastic surgery rotations. Microsurgical experience was variable: 8% (10) of respondents had not been exposed to replantation, 23% (30) had not been exposed to free flap surgery, 32% (42) had not participated in brachial plexus surgery, and 17% (22) had not done a vascularized bone graft. Fifty-six percent (73) of respondents had not had dedicated time for research during their fellowship. Eleven percent (15) had obtained additional training after their fellowship, including shoulder and elbow, microsurgery, pediatrics, and peripheral nerve surgery. When asked if they would have applied to a 2-year hand and upper extremity fellowship, 60% (79) of respondents would have applied.
Based on the results of this survey, 1 year of hand fellowship training has been perceived as inadequate by 7% (9) of respondents, with exposure insufficient in shoulder and elbow, microsurgery, pediatrics, and clinical research. Further critical review of hand fellowship education should be considered, with the availability of extended fellowship tracks for those requesting an increased breadth of upper extremity surgical training.
Economic/Decision Analysis II.

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