Introduction: A dramatic increase in the number of pediatric orthopaedic fellows being trained has led to concerns that there may be an oversupply of pediatric orthopaedists. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this perception is accurate and whether the practice expectations of recent pediatric fellowship graduates are being met by surveying recent pediatric fellowship graduates about their early practice experiences.
Methods: A 36-question survey approved by the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) leadership was electronically distributed to 120 recent graduates of pediatric orthopaedic fellowships; 81 responses were ultimately obtained (67.5% response rate).
Results: Almost all (91%) of the respondents were very or extremely satisfied with their fellowship experience. Half of the respondents had at least 1 job offer before they entered their fellowships. After completion of fellowships, 35% received 1 job offer and 62.5% received ≥2 job offers; only 2.5% did not receive a job offer. Most reported a practice consisting almost entirely of pediatric orthopaedics, and 93.5% thought this was in line with their expectations; 87% indicated satisfaction with their current volume of pediatric orthopaedics, and 85% with the complexity of their pediatric orthopaedic cases. Despite the high employment percentages and satisfaction with practice profiles, nearly a third (28%) of respondents replied that too many pediatric orthopaedists are being trained.
Conclusions: Positive messages from this survey include the satisfaction of graduates with their fellowship training, the high percentage of graduates who readily found employment, and the satisfaction of graduates with their current practice environments; this indicates that the pediatric orthopaedic job environment is not completely saturated and there are continued opportunities for graduating pediatric fellows despite the increased number of fellows being trained. Although not determined by this study, it may be that the stable demand for pediatric orthopaedic services is being driven by the expansion of the scope of practice as well as subspecialization within the practice of pediatric orthopaedics.