Objective: To present a model for integrated global health fellowships in plastic surgical residency training.
Background: National surveys have found that North American surgical residents have significant interest in international training. While global health training opportunities exist, less than a third of these are housed within surgical residency programs; even fewer are designed specifically for plastic surgery residents.
Methods: The Tsao Fellowship was created through a partnership between Operation Smile, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Shriners Hospital for Children, and the University of Southern California. Designed for Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accredited plastic surgery residents between their third and fourth years of residency, the fellowship curriculum is completed over 24 months and divided into 3 areas: clinical research, international reconstructive surgery fieldwork, and the completion of a Master of Science in Clinical and Biomedical Investigations.
Results: The Tsao Fellowship has matriculated 4 fellows: 3 have graduated from the program and 1 is in the current cycle. Fellows completed 4 to 7 international missions each cycle and have performed an aggregate total of 684 surgical procedures. Each fellow also conducted 2 to 6 research projects and authored several publications. All fellows continue to assume leadership roles within the field of global reconstructive surgery.
Conclusions: Comprehensive global health fellowships provide invaluable opportunities beyond surgical residency. The Tsao Fellowship is a model for integrating international surgical training with global health research in plastic surgical residency that can be applied to other residency programs and different surgical specialties.