Plastic Surgery Across Continents: A Comparison of Residency Training in Subsaharan Africa and the United States

Ann Plast Surg. 2021 Jan 19. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000002672. Online ahead of print.


There is a demonstrated need for access to plastic surgical care in low- and middle-income countries worldwide. Recently, there is increasing interest in promoting transcontinental partnerships between academic institutions to improve training opportunities for local surgeons while increasing access to care for patients. Before such programs can be established, it is crucial for US-based surgeons and educators to understand the existing training models in different countries. The aim of this study is to identify the current plastic surgery training model in the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COSECSA) group of African nations and compare this to training in the United States. The curricula of 2 accrediting bodies of plastic surgery, COSECSA and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education of the United States, were compared. Similarities included the length of dedicated plastic surgery training, curriculum content, and final evaluation structure. Differences include training pathways, assessment methodology, and regulation regarding specific competencies, program requirements, and resident benefits. These findings establish a baseline understanding of how plastic surgical training is organized, delivered, and evaluated in Africa, highlight opportunities for educational initiatives, and serve as a foundation for future efforts to develop collaborative partnerships in these communities. Future research will include a survey sent to program directors and plastic surgery attendings in the COSECSA regions to gather additional information.