Who are surgery program directors and what do they need?

Tania K Arora, Brian J Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The goals of this study are to define the demographics of program directors (PDs), characterize professional responsibilities and scholarly activities, assess career goals and perceptions, and determine what resources PDs have and how they use them.

METHODS: A cross-sectional, confidential, Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved, Internet-based survey was sent to general surgery PDs. PDs were identified from lists of known residencies from the Association of Program Directors in Surgery (APDS) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). E-mail follow-up was used to contact nonresponders and partial responders. Demographic data were analyzed with descriptive statistics.

RESULTS: The response rate was 58%. The mean age was 51.3 +/- 8.2 years. Most respondents were male (89.7%), Caucasian (86.9%), and fellowship trained (63.7%). Few PDs have teaching credentials (11%), but most PDs have sought additional training in teaching (63%). PDs work a total of 73 hours per week. They spend about 41 hours per week on clinical duties and about 22 hours per week on program director duties. PDs have an average of 4-5 support staff members; 81.5% of PDs have an assistant program director (APD). A few PDs have formal protected time (38.7%). Most PDs feel they have support for professional development and feel supported by their chairperson (90.8% and 94.1%, respectively). Lower job satisfaction scores were observed in measures of feeling valued by colleagues and in the availability of institutional resources.

CONCLUSION: Most surgery PDs are fellowship trained, are currently conducting research, have an APD in their program, and feel supported by their chairperson. Most PDs do not have protected time, and some feel insufficient institutional resources are available for their responsibilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-11
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 9 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Administrative Personnel
  • Adult
  • Career Mobility
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Female
  • General Surgery/education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Professional Role
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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