Success in Academic Surgery: Part 1

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This commitment has allowed our graduates to experience great success on the American Board of Surgery qualifying and certifying examinations. Diversity is important to us. Our residents come from diverse backgrounds. More than one third of our residents are women.

Resident support is also important. This year they will again compete in Surgical Jeopardy. We also provide loupes, iPads and an educational stipend for each resident. At the beginning of the academic year, our trauma team works on many trauma procedures, including peripheral vascular injury, IVC injury, thoracotomy, and cardiac injury.

In the spring our general surgery teams work through foregut, thoracic and open general surgery including hepatectomy, femoral hernia and open common bile duct exploration. These early hires are critically important and it is appropriate to seek advice from colleagues and have them help in the interviewing process. The importance of interviewing and hiring the right people should not be underestimated.

A poor initial hire can have a significant effect on productivity. This year is also the time to pursue fundamental practices that will enable long-term success: identifying and utilizing a time management system and learning about and submitting protocols for institutional biosafety and animal care and use review. This is also the time to begin assembling a team of mentors, collaborators, and colleagues that will increase the likelihood of achieving research success. The starting surgeon-scientist is also encouraged to seek institutional support and resources for coursework in developing research and grant-writing skills.

Mentorship in Surgery:

Years 2 and 3 are opportune times to begin writing grants. The rigor demanded by grant writing is extremely valuable in helping an investigator to lay out a coherent, logical, and well-supported research plan. Given the challenges of obtaining extramural funding, one must develop discipline in submitting grants routinely. Initial grants can be submitted to private foundations and specialty or regional surgical societies. Departmental and institutional funds should also be pursued. As more robust preliminary data are obtained, federal funding sources should be considered.

The young investigator should be frequently searching for grants, and the grant manager and mentors can also help identify opportunities. Although there is no guaranteed path to achieving research independence, the mentored career development awards offered by the NIH are a well-established approach toward that goal. One should note that the K-award mechanism may not meet the needs of all early-stage surgeon-scientists. Many K08 awardees are successful in advancing to more significant levels of federal funding. In considering when to submit a K award application, it is important to remember that a typical cycle to obtain a K-award includes a resubmission, and therefore the usual length of time from first submission to obtaining funds following a resubmission is approximately 20 months.

Therefore, start-up funds, foundation grants, and institutional awards should be used with this timeline in mind. Finally, the K award is not the sole mechanism to obtain research independence. Companies often seek to partner with academic medical centers and these relationships can be very productive for both parties. These early years are also an important time to become actively involved in relevant national societies, both surgical and scientific. Membership in specialty societies is important as it represents an opportunity to become involved in the field, to get to know the leadership, and to have a forum for presenting research.

Mentors and department chairs can provide value by getting young surgeon-scientists onto committees that increase their engagement and visibility within the larger community. At this stage the start-up package has been, or is nearly, depleted. It is important to address beforehand if the department will continue to provide support if preliminary promise is demonstrated, ideally based on clear, previously defined benchmarks.

A Roadmap for Aspiring Surgeon-Scientists in Today’s Healthcare Environment

During this period, the young investigator should continue to apply for career development awards and grants to obtain funding and advance closer to independence. Kodadek et al 20 queried surgical chairmen about the qualities of successful K awardees, with responses noting passion for research, persistence, availability of physical space, protected time, partner support, and senior mentorship. These are the same components required for any surgeon-scientist to succeed, and need to be considered not only when seeking a job but continually throughout the early years. Persistence, resilience, and the ability to learn from failures are individual factors that shine during this early career period.

The keys to successful grant writing hinge on knowing the format and audience, identifying weaknesses and how to address them, having clear and explicit goals, and utilizing mentor assistance to guide and revise applications. It is especially important to address reviewer comments on grant applications that are not funded. These comments often hold the keys to improving subsequent applications.

Ignoring comments from any reviewer, or responding defensively, will dramatically reduce the likelihood of funding on a revised application. Participating in grant review committees and study sections are excellent opportunities to study the pitfalls and challenges of major grant submissions. Predictably, institutions with a strong history of extramural research funding have more challenging requirements for number and quality of publications, number and value of external grants, with critical measures of reputation and impact. All institutions, however, share the need for the promotion process to be transparent, equitable, unbiased, and fair, and to seek significant recommendations from outside referees.

Collecting a network of people familiar with your work is essential for promotion, and this requires publication in high visibility journals with consistent high impact and significance. In anticipation of eventual promotion, one should maintain an up-to date curriculum vitae in real-time. By knowing the requirements for promotion, deficiencies can be addressed early and milestones for achievement can be established.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are multiple potential paths to success as a surgeon scientist. We have herein presented a roadmap to guide young surgeons in their pursuit of developing an independent research career. The importance of quality mentorship, institutional support, and individual passion and commitment cannot be overstated. The surgeon-scientist of the 21st century faces significant hurdles, but these challenges can be overcome, for the sake of our patients and the advancement of academic surgery. Disclosure: There are no conflicts of interest or financial support to report.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

Determining the Drivers of Academic Success in Surgery: An Analysis of 3, Faculty

Ann Surg. Author manuscript; available in PMC Jan 1. Allan M. Alex B. Sundeep G.

AAS 2018 Presidential Address - Re-defining Success in Academic Surgery

David J. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Reprints: David J. Copyright notice. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Ann Surg. Abstract Objective: Surgeon-scientists are an essential component of the field of academic surgery, contributing to the fundamental understanding of disease and the discovery of innovative therapies.

Methods: Based on published literature and expert opinion, the Basic Science Committee of the Society of University of Surgeons prepared this roadmap to encourage and guide the next generation of surgeon-scientists as they embark on their academic careers. Results: This roadmap highlights key elements to consider in choosing an initial job and the importance of identifying a team of committed mentors. Conclusions: With guidance and mentorship, aspiring surgeonscientists can overcome the challenges inherent in choosing this career path and sustain the important legacy of those before them.

Keywords: academic surgery, basic science, surgeon-scientist. Surgeons are uniquely positioned to make important contributions to understanding the biology of surgical diseases because of their proximity to the diagnosis and management of those conditions, their direct access to tissue samples, and their unique perspectives on surgical diseases and their treatment.

Committed Mentors One of the essential ingredients for launching a career as a surgeon-scientist is the selection of appropriate mentors. Strong Social Support A major impediment to success identified in recent surveys of surgeon-scientists is the difficulty of achieving work-life balance. Appropriate Compensation and Start-Up Support Research-focused careers are gratifying and meaningful, but can also be less financially rewarding than a purely clinically focused position, at least in the short term.

Careful Evaluation of the Offer After the job search, it is possible that the perfect offer will not materialize. Open in a separate window. Essential components for achieving success as a surgeon-scientist.

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Years 2 to 3: Obtaining Extramural Research Funding Years 2 and 3 are opportune times to begin writing grants. Year 4 and Beyond At this stage the start-up package has been, or is nearly, depleted. Table 1. Footnotes Disclosure: There are no conflicts of interest or financial support to report. Toledo-Pereyra LH. Nobel Laureate surgeons. J Invest Surg. Niederhuber JE. An old problem that may be getting worse. Kirk AD, Feng S. Surgeons and research: talent, training, time, teachers and teams. Am J Transplant. Jaime H. McCord , Robert I.

Training future surgical scientists: realities and recommendations. James W Suliburk , Lillian S. Kao , Rosemary A. Kozar , David W. Timothy J. The bumpy path to successful academic surgery. Lessons learned. MF Brennan. Surgeons' self-esteem: A change from too high to too low? Before and after resident work hour limitations: an objective assessment of the well-being of surgical residents. Thomas Aidan Stamp , Paula M. Burnout among American surgeons.


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