Dissecting a department of surgery: Exploring organizational culture and competency expectations

Am J Surg. 2021 Feb;221(2):298-302. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2020.10.011. Epub 2020 Oct 24.


Introduction: In order to recruit high-potential trainees, surgery residency and fellowship programs must first understand what competencies and attributes are required for success in their respective programs. This study performed a systematic analysis to define organizational culture and competency expectations across training programs within one academic surgery department.

Methods: Subject matter experts rated the importance and frequency of 22 competencies and completed a 44-item organizational culture inventory along 1 to 5 Likert-type scales.

Results: Importance and frequency attributions of competencies varied significantly among programs (p < .05 by ANOVA), but there was substantial agreement on organizational culture; self-directed (x̄ = 3.8), perfectionist (x̄ = 3.7) and social (x̄ = 3.7) attributes were most representative of the program, while oppositional (x̄ = 1.8), competitive (x̄ = 2.5) and hierarchical (x̄ = 2.7) characteristics were least representative.

Conclusions: Residency and fellowship programs within the same department have shared perceptions of the culture and values of their institution, but seek different competencies among entering trainees.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration*
  • Academic Medical Centers / standards
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / standards
  • Internship and Residency / standards
  • Motivation
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Personnel Selection / standards*
  • Surgery Department, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Surgery Department, Hospital / standards