I have tried to forecast some of the real challenges which we will all face within our departments over the next few years. If we are to be successful in attracting the best and the brightest young people to join us in the pursuit of an academic surgical career, we must serve as role models, genuine role models, for what may be a decreasing pool of medical students entering our institutions. Second, we must reward those individuals in our departments who truly inspire and motivate our young trainees, whether this inspiration is at the bedside, in the operating rooms, or in the laboratories. Third, we must begin to explore new initiatives where professional organizations and associations such as the AAS can reach out to these young trainees and help them realize early on the advantages and gratification of a career in academic surgery. Fourth, we must realize that academic and research training, like charity, begins at home. Through workshops, local seminars, and training programs modeled after the one which seems to have been so successfully done by the AAS, our departments and institutions can begin to teach solid research skills and demonstrate a genuine commitment for the future success of our young trainees. Finally, we have to rethink our notion of the model academic surgical department. The time has passed where every surgical faculty member should be at the beck and call of the operating room. If we take our obligations to recruiting and training young academic surgeons seriously, we will realize that it is not enough for us to simply sit back and wait for them to come. It is time to assemble the best and brightest of our colleagues to join us in this task and to realize that being an academic surgeon has more to do with common future goals than with common past experiences.
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