Current approaches to journal club by general surgery programs within the Southwestern surgical congress

J Surg Educ. 2012 Mar-Apr;69(2):162-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2011.08.006. Epub 2011 Oct 6.


Background: Journal club (JC) is a well-recognized education tool for many postgraduate medical education programs. Journal club helps residents learn critical analytic skills and keep up to date with current medical practices. To our knowledge, there is minimal evidence in the current literature detailing modern JC practices of general surgery training programs. Our study attempts to define how general surgery residency programs are implementing JC in their training process.

Method: We distributed by mail a 14-question survey to general surgery program directors within the Southwestern Surgical Congress. These surveys were redistributed 1 month after the initial attempt. The responses were collected and analyzed. Survey questions aimed to define JC practice characteristics, such as where JC is held, when JC is held, who directs JC, what journals are used, the perceived importance of JC, and average attendance.

Results: The surveys were sent to 32 program directors (PDs), which included 26 university and 6 community-based programs. We received responses from 26 (81%) PDs. Ninety-two percent of the programs have a consistent journal club (JC). Most JCs meet monthly (64%) or weekly (16%). The meeting places ranged from conference rooms (60%), faculty homes (20%), restaurants (8%), or in the hospital (12%). The meeting times were divided between morning (29%), midday (29%), and evening (42%). Most JCs lasted between 1 and 2 hours (88%), reviewed 1-4 articles (88%), and are attended by more than 60% of residents routinely (75%). Half of the programs (50%) had 3-4 faculty members present during discussion; 29% of the programs had only 1-2 faculty present. The articles were selected from more than 10 different journals. Seventy-five percent of the programs used the American Journal of Surgery and Annals of Surgery to find articles; only 13% of the programs used evidence-based reviews in surgery. PDs believe JC is very beneficial (42%), moderately beneficial (42%), or only fairly beneficial (16%). According to PDs, JC is most beneficial because it improves clinical knowledge (88%), initiates additional reading (62%), and improves American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (ABSITE) scores (15%).

Conclusion: Journal club has historically been an integral part of general surgery training. Our research indicates that journal club is still used widely as a beneficial educational resource and helps meet core competency requirements.

MeSH terms

  • Congresses as Topic
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Male
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • Program Evaluation
  • Reading
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States