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Relationships May Influence Surgical Residents' Career Plans

Single, childless residents more likely to specialize, survey finds

TUESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Surgical residents are more likely to plan for specialty fellowships if they're single or childless, a new study finds.

"Specialization is a growing trend that might jeopardize the future of general surgery," the study authors wrote. "Research has demonstrated that it likely results from multiple factors, including the changing demographics of medical schools and surgery residency programs, residency type [academic vs. community setting] and early exposure through research performed during residency."

Dr. Kate V. Viola, of the Yale School of Medicine, and colleagues surveyed 4,586 general surgery residents in 2008 and asked them about their career plans and opinions on specialization.

Slightly more than half of the respondents said they were married, and another 24 percent reported being in a relationship. About a quarter of all the respondents said they had kids.

Overall, 68 percent of the residents were men, and all respondents had an average age of 31.

Fifty-five percent said they thought a general surgeon needs to be trained in a specialty to be successful, and 78 percent said they thought specialty training would lead to a higher income.

Fifty-seven percent of those without kids said they planned for a specialty fellowship, vs. 50 percent of those with kids. Single residents were also more likely than married ones to plan for a fellowship.

"This study raises interesting questions regarding trainees' beliefs and intent to seek specialty training," the authors wrote. "Each fellowship experience is unique and provides varying potential for income and lifestyle flexibility. More research is needed to stratify resident characteristics associated with considering post-residency training and the impact of marriage and children on the rigors of residency and fellowship."

The study is published in the May issue of the Archives of Surgery.

More information

For more on medical careers, see the Association of American Medical Colleges.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: American Medical Association, press release, May 17, 2010.

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