North American pediatric surgery fellows' preparedness for humanitarian surgery
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JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
AbstractIntroduction: The overwhelming burden of pediatric surgical need in humanitarian settings has prompted mutual interest between humanitarian organizations and pediatric surgeons. To assess adequate fit, we correlated pediatric surgery fellowship case mix and load with acute pediatric surgical relief efforts in conflict and disaster zones. Methods: We reviewed pediatric (age < 18) cases logged by the Médecins Sans Frontières Operational Centre Brussels (MSF-OCB) from a previously validated and published database spanning 2008-2014 and cases performed by American College of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) pediatric surgery graduates from 2008 to 2018. Non-operative management for trauma, endoscopic procedures, and basic wound care were excluded as they were not tracked in either dataset. ACGME procedures were classified under 1 of 32 MSF pediatric surgery procedure categories and compared using chi-squared tests. Results: ACGME fellows performed procedures in 44% of tracked MSF-OCB categories. Major MSF-OCB pediatric cases were comprised of 62% general surgery, 23% orthopedic surgery, 9% obstetrical surgery, 3% plastic/reconstructive surgery, 2% urogynecologic surgery, and 1% specialty surgery. In comparison, fellows' cases were 95% general surgery, 0% orthopedic surgery, 0% obstetrical surgery, 5% urogynecologic surgery, and 1% specialty surgery. Fellows more frequently performed abdominal, thoracic, other general surgical, urology/gynecologic, and specialty procedures, but performed fewer wound and burn procedures (all p < 0.05). Fellows received no experience in Cesarean section or open fracture repair. Fellows performed a greater proportion of surgeries for congenital conditions (p < 0.05). Conclusion: While ACGME pediatric surgical trainees receive significant training in general and urogynecologic surgical techniques, they lack sufficient case load for orthopedic and obstetrical care - a common need among children in humanitarian settings. Trainees and program directors should evaluate the fellow's role and scope in a global surgery rotation or provide advanced preparation to fill these gaps. Upon graduation, pediatric surgeons interested in humanitarian missions should seek out additional orthopedic and obstetrical training, or select missions that do not require such skillsets.
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