Interim Analysis of a Prospective Multi-Institutional Study of Surgery Resident Experience with Flexibility in Surgical Training

Darren R. Cullinan, Paul E. Wise, Keith A. Delman, John R. Potts, Michael M. Awad, Timothy J. Eberlein, Mary E. Klingensmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: The Flexibility in Surgical Training (FIST) consortium project was designed to evaluate the feasibility and resident outcomes of optional subspecialty-focused training within general surgery residency training. Study Design: After approval by the American Board of Surgery, R4 and R5 residents were permitted to customize up to 12 of the final 24 months of residency for early tracking into 1 of 9 subspecialty tracks. A prospective IRB-approved study was designed across 7 institutions to evaluate the impact of this option on operative experience, in-service exam (American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination [ABSITE]) and ACGME milestone performance, and resident and program director (PD) perceptions. The FIST residents were compared with chief residents before FIST initiation (controls) as well as residents during the study period who did not participate in FIST (no specialization track, NonS). Results: From 2013 to 2017, 122 of 214 chief residents (57%) completed a FIST subspecialty track. There were no differences in median ABSITE scores between FIST, NonS residents, and controls. The ACGME milestones at the end of the R5 year favored the FIST residents in 13 of 16 milestones compared with NonS. Case logs demonstrated an increase in track-specific cases compared with NonS residents. Resident and PD surveys reported a generally favorable experience with FIST. Conclusions: In this prospective study, FIST is a feasible option in participating institutions. All FIST residents, regardless of track, met requirements for ABS Board eligibility, despite modifications to rotations and case experience. Future studies will assess the impact of FIST on ABS exam results and fellowship success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-431
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


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