What should residency/fellowship program directors and residents making career choices know about recent trends regarding otolaryngology-head and neck surgery residents?
Background: Otolaryngology, which over the years has evolved into a complex regional surgical subspecialty, remains one of the most highly sought after specialties among medical students. No recent studies have investigated specific fellowship preferences among residents, however, nor have the important trends in preference of an academic or private practice career path been researched.
Study design: Cross-sectional survey.
Setting: Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle; Department of Otolaryngology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville; and Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Emory Voice Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta.
Synopsis: The survey was presented to 1,364 U.S. otolaryngology residents, with a response rate of 50 percent. In comparing year two to year five, the authors found that desire to complete a fellowship declined from 62 percent to 58 percent, while the desire to not complete a fellowship increased from 31 percent to 41 percent. Interest increased for rhinology and head and neck surgery by training year, but declined for neurotology and facial plastics. Expectation of an academic path increased from 29 percent to 38 percent, while expectation of private practice declined from 59 percent to 57 percent.
Women were initially more interested in completing a fellowship (69 percent versus 60 percent) and an academic career than their male counterparts (40 percent versus 27 percent). At the end of training, these gender differences were eliminated or reversed (59 percent men versus 54 percent women for fellowship; 39 percent men versus 35 percent women for academics).
Residents interested in pursuing fellowship or academics reported working two hours a week more than those in private practice.
The authors noted that the cross-sectional nature of the study only represents one period of assessment.
Bottom line: There is a trend toward decreased interest in fellowship and increased interest in an academic career path with increasing year of residency training. By the end of training, gender differences in pursuing a fellowship and/or academic career are either eliminated or reversed.
Citation: Golub JS, Ossoff RH, Johns MM III. Fellowship and career path preferences in residents of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. Laryngoscope. 2011;121(4):882-887.
—Reviewed by Sue Pondrom