Background and methods: To determine the current status and future direction of trauma care fellowships, a phone survey was conducted with the 45 program directors reporting information to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma.
Results: Forty programs (89%) were operational, with 86 positions. The duration of the fellowship was 1 year for 16 (40%) and 2 or more years for 24 (60%). Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accreditation (ACGME) (for surgical critical care) was held by 28 (70%). Mean salary was $39,600 at the first-year level. A funding shift from institutional to practice revenue sources is foreseen. Thirteen directors (32.5%) saw future recruitment potential as increasing and 11 (27.5%) saw it as decreasing.
Conclusion: The essence, structure, and funding of trauma fellowships are changing. One-year exclusive trauma fellowships are being replaced by 1- to 2-year trauma or surgical critical care fellowships with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accreditation increasingly seen as essential. The challenge for fellowships in an era of budgetary constraints will be to provide adequate training in the full spectrum of tramatology within a reasonable time frame supported by a predictable funding mechanism.