General Surgery and Otolaryngology Resident Perspectives on Obtaining Competency in Thyroid Surgery

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Surgical Education








competency; education; general surgery; otolaryngology; survey; thyroid; training


Objective: General surgery (GS) and otolaryngology (OTO) do not require a minimum number of thyroidectomies to qualify for board certification. No standardized criteria exist for declaring competence in this procedure. A survey was created to assess GS and OTO resident perspectives on becoming competent in thyroid surgery. Design: A survey was electronically mailed to all GS and OTO residents assessing their competence in thyroid surgery. Setting: National survey of general surgery and otolaryngology residents. Participants: National general surgery and otolaryngology residents. Results: A convenience sample of 526 residents responded (246/280 = GS/OTO). The mean clinical year of training was 3.3 (3.1/3.5). Most residents (50%/41%) performed between 1 and 10 thyroid operations. Residents believed 13 and 25 (GS/OTO) thyroidectomies were required by their respective Boards. Both groups felt that 30 (27/33) thyroid operations were necessary to obtain competence (p < 0.01). The most important feature was operative volume with graduated responsibility, followed by guidance under an expert mentor. Analysis of residents PGY4 and greater showed no significant differences. Conclusions: While residents of both specialties generally agree on learning methods, the perception of readiness to perform thyroid surgery after training is variable. A disconnect is present between the number of cases required for Board certification, the number of cases residents believe are required, and the number of cases residents believe it takes to achieve competency. © 2012 Association of Program Directors in Surgery. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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