Acute care surgery fellowship graduates' practice patterns: The additional training is an asset

Clay Cothren Burlew*, Kimberly A. Davis, John J. Fildes, Thomas J. Esposito, Christopher J. Dente, Gregory J. Jurkovich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Over the past decade, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma Acute Care Surgery (ACS) fellowship program has matured to 20 verified programs. As part of an ongoing curricular evaluation, we queried the current practice patterns of the graduates of ACS fellowship programs regarding their view on their ACS training.We hypothesized that the majority of ACS fellowship graduates would be practicing ACS in academic Level I trauma centers and that fellowship training was pivotal in their career. METHODS: Graduates of American Association for the Surgery of Trauma-certified ACS fellowships completed an online survey that included practice demographics, specific categories of cases delineated by the current ACS curriculum, and perceived impact of training. RESULTS: Surveyswere submitted by 56 of 77 graduates for a completion rate of 73%. The majority of respondentsweremale (68%) aged 40 years or younger (80%). All but four completed ACS fellowship training in last 5 years (93%), and 83% completed fellowship in the last 3 years. Regarding their current practice, broadly defined ACS predominated (96%) with 2% practicing only trauma surgery and 2% only general surgery. Practice settings were 64% urban, 29% suburban, and 7% rural locations, with 84% of graduates practicing in a hospital-based group. The practitioner's hospital was identified as university/university-affiliated in 53%, community in 38%, and military in 9%, with 91% identified as a teaching hospital; trauma designation was identified as Level I (55%), Level II (39%), and other (6%).The graduates' average current practice mix is 10% elective general surgery, 29% emergency general surgery, 32% trauma, 25% surgical critical care, and 4%other (burn, bariatric, vascular, and thoracic). Only 16%of graduates do not performelective cases. Case specifics demonstrated 92%of graduates perform vascular cases, 88% perform thoracic cases, and 70% perform complex hepatobiliary. Practice elements that were satisfiers included (1) scope of practice, (2) case mix, (3) percentage emergency general surgery, (4) lifestyle, (5) case complexity (with 3 and 4 tied). Graduates agreed the ACS fellowship training prepared them well for practice and was worth the time invested (both 82%), increased their marketability and self-confidence (80%), and prepared them well for academics (71%) and administration (63%). Of those surveyed, 93% would encourage others to do an ACS fellowship. CONCLUSION: Although 93% of graduates practice in urban/suburban areas, there was a mixture of university, university-affiliated, and community institutions and an almost even division of Levels I and II designation. Graduates demonstrate ongoing use of their acquired advanced operative training, particularly in vascular and thoracic surgery. The majority of ACS fellowship graduates were practicing ACS and felt fellowship training was valuable in their career path and that they would recommend it to others. (J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2017;82: 208-210.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-210
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute care surgery
  • Fellowship
  • Practice pattern
  • Training program


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