Date of this Version
The American Journal of Surgery (2011) 202, 507–510;
BACKGROUND: In a time of increasing specialization, academic training institutions provide a compartmentalized learning environment that often does not reflect the broad clinical experience of general surgery practice. This study aimed to evaluate the contribution of the Veterans Affairs (VA) general surgery surgical experience to both index Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requirements and as a unique integrated model in which residents provide concurrent care of multiple specialty patients.
METHODS: Institutional review board approval was obtained for retrospective analysis of electronic medical records involving all surgical cases performed by the general surgery service from 2005 to 2009 at the Nashville VA. Over a 5-year span general surgery residents spent an average of 5 months on the VA general surgery service, which includes a postgraduate year (PGY)-5, PGY-3, and 2 PGY-1 residents. Surgeries involved the following specialties: surgical oncology, endocrine, colorectal, hepatobiliary, transplant, gastrointestinal laparoscopy, and elective and emergency general surgery. The surgeries were categorized according to ACGME index requirements.
RESULTS: A total of 2,956 surgeries were performed during the 5-year period from 2005 through 2009. Residents participated in an average of 246 surgeries during their experience at the VA; approximately 50 cases are completed during the chief year. On the VA surgery service alone, 100% of the ACGME requirement was met for the following categories: endocrine (8 cases); skin, soft tissue, and breast (33 cases); alimentary tract (78 cases); and abdominal (88 cases). Approximately 50% of the ACGME requirement was met for liver, pancreas, and basic laparoscopic categories.
CONCLUSIONS: The VA hospital provides an authentic, broad-based, general surgery training experience that integrates complex surgical patients simultaneously. Opportunities for this level of comprehensive care are decreasing or absent in many general surgery training programs. The increasing level of responsibility and simultaneous care of multiple specialty patients through the VA hospital systems offers a crucial experience for those pursuing a career in general surgery. Published by Elsevier Inc.