Choice of vascular surgery as a specialty: Survey of vascular surgery residents, general surgery chief residents, and medical students at hospitals with vascular surgery training programs

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Vascular Surgery








Under the direction of the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery, a survey was mailed to vascular surgery residents (VSRs), general surgery chief residents (GS-CRs), and fourth-year medical students (MSs) to better define reasons why trainees do and do not choose vascular surgery as a career. Questionnaires were mailed to all accredited VSR programs and their associated GS programs in the United States and Canada in 2001 (survey 1) and in 2003 (survey 2) and to 2 medical schools with VSR programs in 2001. A total of 197 VSRs, 169 GS-CRs, and 78 MSs responded (overall program response rate of 78% for VSRs, 46% for GSRs, 20% for MSs). A scoring system was assigned, with 1.0 the least important and 5.0 the most important reasons to choose or not choose vascular surgery. Technical aspects, role of mentors, and complex decision making involved in vascular surgery were the most important reasons that VSRs, GS-CRs, and MSs would choose vascular surgery as a specialty (average scores <4.0 for VSRs and GS-CRs; <3.5 for MSs). Responses of GS-CRs and VSRs did not vary significantly between surveys 1 and 2, except endovascular capabilities of vascular surgeons had a more important role in choosing vascular surgery, and future loss of patients to other interventionalists had a more important role in not choosing this specialty in the more recent survey of GS-CRs and VSRs. MSs identified lifestyle as a surgical resident (4.3) and as a surgeon (4.2) as the most important negative factors. A training paradigm consisting of 4 years general surgery + 2 years vascular surgery with a GS certificate was favored by 64% of GS-CRs and 48% of VSRs, compared with a paradigm of 5 years + 2 years with a general surgery certificate, which was favored by 29% of GS-CRs and 25% of VSRs, or 3 years + 3 years without a general surgery certificate, favored by 7% of GS-CRs and 27% of VSRs. Of note, 86% of MSs favored 3 years general surgery + 3 years vascular surgery or 2 years general surgery + 4 years vascular surgery compared with longer general surgery training periods. These findings may help vascular surgery program directors devise strategies to attract future trainees. The importance of mentorship to general surgery junior residents and medical students in choosing vascular surgery cannot be overestimated. Endovascular capabilities of vascular surgeons have an increasingly positive role in career choice by GS-CRs and VSRs, but these residents express increasing concerns about potential loss of patients to other specialists. Lifestyle concerns are the most important reasons why medical students do not choose vascular surgery as a career.

This document is currently not available here.