Differential attainment in higher surgical training: scoping pan-specialty spectra

Postgrad Med J. 2023 Jul 21;99(1174):849-854. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2022-141638.


Introduction: This study aimed to evaluate differential attainment during higher surgical training (HST; all specialties) related to three ethnic cohorts: White UK (WUKG), Black and Minority Ethnic UK Graduates (BMEUKG), and International Medical Graduates (IMG).

Method: Anonymised records of 266 HSTs (126 WUKG, 65 BMEUKG, 75 IMG; 7 years) in a single UK Statutory Education Body were examined. Primary effect measures were Annual Record of Competency Progression Outcome (ARCPO) and Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) pass.

Results: ARCPOs related to ethnicity and specialty were similar with the exception of general surgery (GS) trainees, four of whom received ARCPO 4 (GS 4.9% (75% BME; p=0.025) vs all other 0%). ARCPO 3 was commoner in women (22/76, (28.9%) than men 27/190 (14.2%), OR 2.46, p=0.006). FRCS pass rates (WUKG vs BMEUKG vs IMG) were 76.9%, 52.9% and 53.9% respectively (p=0.064) but unrelated to gender (M 70.4% vs F 64.3%). On multivariable analyses: ARCPO 3 was associated with Female gender and Maternity Leave (OR 8.05, p=0.001); FRCS pass with ethnicity (OR 0.21, p=0.028) and Hirsch Indices of ≥5 (OR 11.17, p=0.001).

Conclusion: Differential attainment was plain with BMEUKG FRCS performance almost a third poorer than WUKG, and women twofold more likely to receive adverse ARCPOs, with return from statutory leave independently associated with training extension. Focused counter measures targeted at non-operative technical skills (including academic reach), Keeping in Touch, Return to Work, and re-induction programmed support are urgently needed for trainees at risk.

Keywords: adult surgery; medical education & training.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Educational Measurement
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine*
  • Pregnancy
  • Surgeons*
  • United Kingdom