BACKGROUND - In recent years, there has been a growing interest in endocrine surgery. Educational objectives have been published by the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons (AAES), but data have not been collected describing the recruitment pool, fellowship, or postfellowship experiences.
METHODS - A survey was distributed to endocrine surgeons in practice <7 years and endocrine surgery fellows. Demographic, training, and practice data were collected.
RESULTS - The survey response rate was 69% (46/67); 85% were practicing endocrine surgeons and 15% were fellows. In all, 72% of respondents completed an endocrine surgery fellowship, 17% completed surgical oncology, and the remaining individuals completed no fellowship. The mean age was 38 (32-49) years; 39% were women, 67% were white, 26% were Asian, 11% were Hispanic, and 2% were black. A total of 89% completed residency at academic centers. Endocrine surgery fellows performed significantly more endocrine surgery cases in residency than the average graduating chief resident. Mentorship was a critical factor in fellows' decisions to pursue endocrine surgery. Fellows graduated with a median (range) of 150 (50-300) thyroid, 80 (35-200) parathyroid, 10 (2-50) neck dissection, 13 (0-60) laparoscopic adrenal, and 3 (0-35) endocrine-pancreas. Fellows felt the least prepared in neck dissection and pancreas. Of the respondents, 76% of endocrine surgeons in practice are at academic centers, and 75% have practices where most cases are endocrine based.
CONCLUSION - Exposure to endocrine surgery and mentorship are powerful factors that influence residents to pursue careers in endocrine surgery. Significant variation is found in the case distribution of fellowships with a relative paucity in neck dissection, pancreas procedures, and research. Recruitment to endocrine surgery should begin in residency, and the standardization of training should be a goal.
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