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Assessing Gaps in Surgical Oncology Training: Results of a Survey of General Surgery Residents

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Objective: Many general surgeons devote a significant amount of time and effort to the care of cancer patients. There is currently no standardized, national curriculum in Surgical Oncology for General Surgery residents. The objective of this study was to identify gaps in oncology education among General Surgery residents. Design: An anonymous survey design was used in the present study. Residents received an invitation to participate along with a link to an online survey. Interested residents selected the link and completed the 10 minute survey. Binomial logistic regression was performed to ascertain the effects of PGY year on various perceptions and knowledge relating to surgical oncology. Setting: The participants included residents from 3 General Surgery residency programs including Florida Atlantic University, The University of Iowa and The University of Connecticut. These are all university-based programs, but residents in each program rotate at several sites each, including both university and community hospitals. Participants: Participants included clinical PGY 1 to 5 categorical general surgical residents, as well as PGY 1 and 2 General Surgery preliminary residents. A total of 135 residents received the email with the link to the survey. Forty-nine residents from all PGY levels responded to the survey. Results: Twenty-one percent of the respondents were familiar with American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer accreditation, which is a major means of maintaining standards in cancer care across institutions in the United States The majority of residents did not receive formal training in such key areas as chemotherapy and radiation therapy basics, survivorship, palliative care, pain management, and cancer screening regimens. These responses were not significantly different across different levels of training. Most importantly, many residents, particularly those in PGY 3 to 5, do not feel that they will be fully prepared to care for cancer patients at the completion of their training. Conclusions: The present study provides evidence that regardless of PGY year, residents do not achieve adequate exposure to a variety of cancer-related topics. These include both multidisciplinary cancer care and the operation, accreditation and administration of certified cancer centers. Further, it appears residents do not feel well prepared to provide optimal cancer care at the completion of their training. This data supports the development of a more comprehensive Surgical Oncology curriculum for General Surgery trainees.

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Surgicaltraining programs across the globe have the responsibility of preparing the future generation of surgeons while promoting quality and patient safety. Surgical training differs significantly between countries, which can be based on the requirements of local accrediting bodies, different patient populations, different healthcare delivery systems and cultural and traditional patterns unique to that particular training environment. In this article, we reviewed General surgery residency training in the USA, UK, and India to identify strengths and challenges. We also highlighted salient aspects of training, including duration of the training, resident work-hours, operative opportunities, rotation and supervision, essential skill development, research activity, assessment, and regulation.
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Despite the benefits and increased clinical application of primary palliative care principles within surgery, palliative care education among surgical trainees remains varied and poorly defined. Through a survey of general surgery program directors, this perspective highlights current palliative care educational practices of general surgery residencies and existing curricula. Although program directors deemed palliative care education important to surgical training, barriers to improving resident education included limited overall educational time, few available palliative care experts, and the lack of a dedicated curriculum. There is a need for a surgical palliative care educational toolkit that is validated, easily available, incorporates local experts, and adjustable to the variety of educational practices of surgical programs and their residents.
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Background Knowledge concerning palliative care and the associated skills, including effective pain control, is essential for surgeons who treat cancer patients in daily practice. This study focuses on a palliative care training course that has been mandatorily conducted for all surgical residents of our hospital since 2009. Methods We evaluated the effectiveness of our mandatory palliative care training course by conducting a retrospective study of the patients' medical records and participants' questionnaire results and discussed the importance of palliative care education for surgical residents. Results All 12 surgical residents who participated in the course in 2009 had graduated 4–9 years back. They were assigned to look after a total of 92 cases (average, 7.66 cases per resident) during the course. The purpose of care in most cases (92.3%) was to mitigate pain. Introducing analgesic adjuvants such as gabapentin or amitriptyline accounted for the largest part of initial interventions (23.9%) aimed at controlling cancer pain, followed by changes in route of administration or doses of prior opioid analgesics (21.7%). Interventions with opioid analgesics were conducted most frequently (47.7%). The overall pain improvement rate was 89.1%. We used a questionnaire after the course to evaluate its effectiveness. Conclusions The surgical residents stated that it was a meaningful course through which they gained practical knowledge on palliative care and that the experience would change their approach to home care.
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Introduction: There is increasing recognition that Surgical Palliative Care is an essential component of the holistic care of surgical patients and involves more than end-of-life care in the intensive care unit. General surgery residents are clinically exposed to patients with palliative care needs during each year of training, but few have a dedicated surgical palliative care curriculum. We undertook this educational needs assessment as the first step towards a longitudinal curriculum. Methods: We conducted an anonymous survey of 94 general surgery residents and 115 faculty at community and university hospitals to assess their experience and comfort with surgical palliative care delivery. Residents and faculty were asked multiple choice and open-ended questions. Results: There was a 55% response rate from residents and 33% response rate from faculty. The majority (77%) of respondents were junior residents (PGY1-3) and university-based faculty (66%). Approximately half of residents felt comfortable leading conversations in goals of care (58%), comfort-focused care (52%) and delivering bad news (57%), while greater than 90% of faculty agreed that chief residents needed additional training. All residents agreed they needed additional training and 85% wanted a formal curriculum. Analysis of open-ended questions suggests a deficiency in the pre-operative setting as no residents had participated in these conversations in an outpatient setting. Conclusion: Residents and faculty believe trainees would benefit from further education in surgical palliative care with a dedicated curriculum. The outpatient, pre-operative counseling of patients was identified as a key learning need. These data support our ongoing work to develop a surgically pertinent palliative care curriculum.
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Background: Presentation of rectal cancer cases at a colorectal cancer multidisciplinary conference (CRC-MDC) is a required standard for the newly formed National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer administered by the Commission on Cancer. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency and manner in which CRC-MDC changed the management of rectal cancer patients at a tertiary academic center. Study design: All rectal cancer cases presented at a weekly CRC-MDC between July 2015 and June 2016 were prospectively included. Patient demographics and clinical information were recorded. The presenting physician completed a uniform written questionnaire outlining any changes in management as a result of the discussion. Results: 408 rectal cancer cases were included, and survey responses were obtained for 371 (91%). 39 patients (11%) had Stage IV disease and 20 (5%) had locally recurrent cancer. There was a documented change in plan as a result of the CRC-MDC discussion in 97 of 371 (26%) cases surveyed. Changes in management included a change in therapy or change in therapy sequence in 76 cases, and recommendation of additional evaluation in 36 cases. Rates of management change were similar regardless of surgeon experience. Changes occurred in 23%, 28%, and 26% of cases presented by surgeons with <10, 10-20, and >20 years of experience, respectively (Chi-square p=0.63). Conclusions: CRC-MDC changes clinical management for a significant portion of rectal cancer patients at a tertiary center, independent of the presenting surgeon's years of clinical experience. Our results support the CRC-MDC standard for the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer.
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Introduction: Exposure to pain management curriculum in medical school is currently variable. This paper reports on formal prescribing education, self-perceived prescribing readiness, and prescribing practices among incoming surgical residents before and after a pain management training session. Methods: Pre-residency survey of thirty surgical interns at a single urban medical center, followed by a repeat survey after an educational session on prescription writing and opioid abuse. Results: Thirty-three percent of respondents had formal education on prescription writing in medical school. Median subjective preparedness to write an opioid prescription was 1.5 (range 1-10) on a 1-10 Likert scale. Ranges of morphine milligram equivalents (MME) prescribed varied from 420-2700 MME for 8 mock surgical scenarios. Post-training, median subjective preparedness increased to 3.5 (range 1-6) and prescription accuracy (the inclusion of a medication, dose, frequency, and duration) improved from 75% to 97% (p < 0.001). Overall, 90% of interns found the training session useful. Conclusion: Most surgical interns were not trained in prescribing narcotics in medical school. Improved pain management curriculum is necessary to assure safe and consistent opioid prescriptions.
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Objective: Opioid abuse has become an epidemic in the United States, causing nearly 50,000 deaths a year. Postoperative pain is an unavoidable consequence of most surgery, and surgeons must balance the need for sufficient analgesia with the risks of overprescribing. Prescribing narcotics is often the responsibility of surgical residents, yet little is known about their opioid-prescribing habits, influences, and training experience. Design: Anonymous online survey that assessed the amounts of postoperative opioid prescribed by residents, including type of analgesia, dosage, and number of pills, for a series of common general surgery procedures. Additional questions investigated influences on opioid prescription, use of nonnarcotic analgesia, degree of engagement in patient education on opioids, and degree of training received on analgesia and opioid prescription. Setting: Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accredited general surgery program at a university-based tertiary hospital. Participants: Categorical and preliminary general surgery residents of all postgraduate years. Results: The percentage of residents prescribing opioids postprocedure ranged from 75.5% for incision and drainage to 100% for open hernia repair. Residents report prescribing 166.3 morphine milligram equivalents of opioid for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, yet believe patients will only need an average of 113.9 morphine milligram equivalents. The most commonly reported influences on opioid-prescribing habits include attending preference (95.2%), concern for patient satisfaction (59.5%), and fear of potential opioid abuse (59.5%). Only 35.8% of residents routinely perform a narcotic risk assessment before prescribing and 6.2% instruct patients how to properly dispose of excess opioids. More than 90% of residents have not had formal training in best practices of pain management or opioid prescription. Conclusion and relevance: Surgical trainees are relying almost exclusively on opioids for postoperative analgesia, often in excessive amounts. Residents are heavily influenced by their superiors, but are not receiving formal opioid-prescribing education, pointing to a great need for increased resident education on postoperative pain and opioid management to help change prescribing habits.
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The current study was performed to determine if evidence-based medicine (EBM) curriculum would affect education of surgical residents. A 5-year prospective study was designed to determine if EBM curriculum could improve residents' satisfaction and understanding of breast cancer management during a breast surgical oncology rotation. During the first 2 years, 45 journal articles were used. During the subsequent 3 years, journal articles were not used. The proportion of patients seen in clinic was collected as an objective measure of the "effort" made by the resident. The final assessment was a 120-question examination. Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ. Safety net institution with General Surgery residency program. Postgraduate year 2 general surgery residents. Over 5 years, 30 postgraduate year 2 residents were involved. Univariate analysis showed that female sex (p = 0.04), residents with peer-reviewed publications (p = 0.03), younger age (p = 0.04), American Board of Surgery in-service training examination score (p = 0.01), and clinical effort (p < 0.01) were associated with higher scores. Although residents taught using the journal articles scored 7 points higher on the final examination, this was not significant (p = 0.10). Multivariate analysis showed that American Board of Surgery in-service training examination score and clinic efficiency remained statistically significant. Residents who were taught using the EBM curriculum had significantly higher satisfaction (4.4 vs 3.5, p = 0.001) compared with those who did not go through the EBM curriculum. The current study demonstrates that an EBM curriculum significantly improved resident satisfaction with the rotation. The EBM curriculum may improve residents' breast cancer knowledge. The most important predictor of resident performance was the effort of resident. Copyright © 2015 Association of Program Directors in Surgery. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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The multidisciplinary Commission on Cancer (CoC) and National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), administered by the American College of Surgeons (ACoS), defines evidence and consensus-based standards, require an operational infrastructure, collect high quality cancer data, and validate compliance with standards through external peer review. A survey of our constituents confirms a high level of agreement that accreditation is regarded as important in improving oncologic outcomes through compliance with standards that include continuous quality improvement. J. Surg. Oncol. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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Surgical oncology has established its role in the multidisciplinary care of the cancer patient. Surgical oncology fellowships are organized to teach multimodality treatment. The typical fellow has completed 6 years of general surgery residency and 1 year in the laboratory with the resultant eight publications. Data compiled from the review of two Society of Surgical Oncology–approved fellowship programs, the Surgical Residency Review Committee and the American Board of Surgery, indicate that the majority of fellows join academic faculties and enhance the training of general surgeons, who, in turn, have the major responsibility for oncologic care of the population at large.
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Most surgical training programs have no curriculum to teach palliative care. Programs designed for nonsurgical specialties often do not meet the unique needs of surgeons. With 80-hour workweek limitations on in-hospital teaching, new methods are needed to efficiently teach surgical residents about these problems. A pilot curriculum in palliative surgical care designed for residents was presented in three 1-hour sessions. Sessions included group discussion, role-playing exercises, and instruction in advanced clinical decision making. Residents completed pretest, posttest, and 3-month follow-up surveys designed to measure the program's success. Forty-seven general surgery residents from Brown University participated. Most residents (94%) had "discussed palliative care with a patient or patient's family" in the past. Initially, 57% of residents felt "comfortable speaking to patients and patients' families about end-of-life issues," whereas at posttest and at 3-month intervals, 80% and 84%, respectively, felt comfortable (P < .01). Few residents at pretest (9%) thought that they had "received adequate training in palliation during residency," but at posttest and at 3-month follow-up, 86% and 84% of residents agreed with this statement (P < .01). All residents believed that "managing end-of-life issues is a valuable skill for surgeons." Ninety-two percent of residents at 3-month follow-up "had been able to use the information learned in clinical practice." With a reasonable time commitment, surgical residents are capable of learning about palliative and end-of-life care. Surgical residents think that understanding palliative care is a useful part of their training, a sentiment that is still evident 3 months later.
The general surgery milestone project
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