Global health in general surgery residency: a national survey

J Am Coll Surg. 2009 Mar;208(3):426-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2008.11.014. Epub 2009 Jan 21.


Background: Interest in global health during postgraduate training is increasing across disciplines. There are limited data from surgery residency programs on their attitudes and scope of activities in this area. This study aims to understand how global health education fits into postgraduate surgical training in the US.

Study design: In 2007 to 2008, we conducted a nationwide survey of program directors at all 253 US general surgery residencies using a Web-based questionnaire modified from a previously published survey. The goals of global health activities, type of activity (ie, clinical versus research), and challenges to establishing these programs were analyzed.

Results: Seventy-three programs responded to the survey (29%). Of the respondents, 23 (33%) offered educational activities in global health and 86% (n = 18) of these offered clinical rotations abroad. The primary goals of these activities were to prepare residents for a career in global health and to improve resident recruitment. The greatest barriers to establishing these activities were time constraints for faculty and residents, lack of approval from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and Residency Review Committee, and funding concerns. Lack of interest at the institution level was listed by only 5% of program directors. Of the 47 programs not offering such activities, 57% (n = 27) were interested in establishing them.

Conclusions: Few general surgery residency programs currently offer clinical or other educational opportunities in global health. Most residencies that responded to our survey are interested in such activities but face many barriers, including time constraints, Residency Review Committee restrictions, and funding.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Forecasting
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Global Health*
  • International Educational Exchange / trends
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Internship and Residency / trends
  • United States