Increasing the number of integrated vascular surgery residency positions is important to address the impending shortage of vascular surgeons in the United States

J Vasc Surg. 2018 May;67(5):1618-1625. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2017.12.031. Epub 2018 Mar 1.


Objective: The demand for vascular surgeons is expected to far exceed the current supply. In an attempt to decrease the training duration and to address the impending shortage, integrated vascular surgery residencies were approved and have expanded nationally. Meanwhile, vascular fellowships have continued to matriculate approximately 120 trainees annually. We sought to evaluate the supply and demand for integrated vascular residency positions as well as changes in the quality of applicants.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of national data compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the National Resident Matching Program regarding integrated vascular surgery residency programs (2008-2015) and fellowships (2007-2016). Variables reviewed included the total number of applicants, sex, U.S. vs international medical school enrollment, applications per program, and applicants per position. In addition, we conducted a retrospective review of applicants to the University of Massachusetts Medical School integrated vascular surgery residency program from 2008 to 2015 to examine these variables and United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 and Step 2 CK scores over time.

Results: The number of vascular surgery integrated residency positions increased from 4 in 2008 to 56 in 2015. Concurrently, the number of integrated residency applicants grew from 112 in 2008 to 434 in 2015. This increase has been predominantly driven by a 575% increase in U.S. graduate applicants and a 170% increase in women applicants. The percentage of international medical graduates has decreased by 17% during the study period. The total number of applicants per residency position increased from 5.9 to 7.8. Meanwhile, the number of vascular surgery fellowship positions remained stable with an applicant to position ratio near 1:1. At the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the mean United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 (226 to 235) and Step 2 CK (237 to 243) scores among integrated residency applicants have improved annually and typically exceed the national average among U.S. applicants who have matched in their preferred specialty.

Conclusions: Since the approval of a primary certificate in vascular surgery and the subsequent rollout of integrated vascular residency programs, the number of residency programs and the quality of residency applicants have continued to increase. Demand from medical school applicants vastly outweighs the current supply of training positions by eightfold. In contrast, demand from fellowship applicants matches the supply of fellowship positions. The matriculation of additional trainees must be met with continued expansion of the integrated vascular surgery residency pathway to manage future public health needs.

MeSH terms

  • Certification / trends
  • Education, Medical, Graduate* / trends
  • Health Services Needs and Demand* / trends
  • Health Workforce* / trends
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency* / trends
  • Needs Assessment* / trends
  • Program Evaluation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgeons / education*
  • Surgeons / supply & distribution*
  • Surgeons / trends
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / education*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / trends