Clin Surg | Volume 2, Issue 1 | Research Article | Open Access

Career Choices of Residents Leaving General Surgery: What Do the Residents Say?

Charles E Geno, Daniel M Avery Jr*, Joseph C Wallace, John Burkhardt, Gregg Bell, Andrew G Harrell, Catherine Skinner, and Garrett Taylor

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Community Health Sciences, University of Alabama, USA

*Correspondance to: Daniel M Avery 

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Background: General surgery has the highest rate of attrition of all residency programs. Residents who leave general surgery residencies may change to another specialty, be dismissed, quit medicine altogether, specialize early into an integrated program or complete general surgery followed by a subspecialty fellowship and practice a surgical subspecialty. To our knowledge, this is first study in which residents who left general surgery were interviewed and the explanations of why they chose other specialty published.Design, Setting and
Participants: A list of 6,271 graduates of the University of Alabama School of Medicine (UASOM) assigned to the Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville campuses from 1974 to 2015 was obtained from the published records at the main campus in Birmingham. Information was obtained on 6238 (99.5%) graduates by Google® Search Engine. Graduates who matched into General Surgery but then changed into another specialty, were dismissed, quit medicine altogether, specialized early into an integrated program or completed general surgery followed by a subspecialty fellowship and practiced a surgical subspecialty were included in the study. In the first phase of the study, residents were identified who changed from general surgery. In phase two, graduates who left general surgery residencies from the last ten years (2001 to 2011) were surveyed.Results: There were 282 graduates who left general surgery and changed to another specialty from 1974 to 2015. Ninety residents were identified from the study that changed from general surgery over the last ten years. Fifty-eight residents (65.2%) responded to the survey. Many provided explanations for why they chose another specialty.Discussion: The 282 residents changed from general surgery to 27 different medical and surgical specialties grouped into Primary Care, Non-Primary Care, Non-Patient Care, Surgical Care and Non-Medical Care. One resident chose a Non-Medical Career as an artist. Uncontrollable lifestyle is the number reason residents leave general surgery residencies. Interviewed residents provided a variety of reasons they chose other specialties which is discussed in this paper.


Geno CE, Avery DM Jr, Wallace JC, Burkhardt J, Bell G, Harrell AG, et al. Career Choices of Residents Leaving General Surgery: What Do the Residents Say? Clin Surg. 2017; 2: 1724.

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