Training for a Career in Rural and Nonmetropolitan Surgery—A Practical Needs Assessment

Shanley B. Deal, Mackenzie R. Cook, Dorothy Hughes, Michael Sarap, Tyler G. Hughes, Karen Brasel, Adnan A. Alseidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: The current shortage of surgeons in rural and smaller communities is predicted to get worse. In this study, we solicited practicing rural surgeons’ opinions about the skill set needed in a rural practice in order to inform curriculum development for general surgery residents who intend to embark on rural careers. Design: We developed an online survey consisting of demographic questions and closed- and open-ended questions regarding current practice environment and scope of practice. Priorities for training were identified using descriptive analyses of both the quantitative and qualitative data, including frequency of responses regarding specific skills training. Participants: We surveyed currently practicing surgeons who subscribe to the American College of Surgeons Rural Surgery listserv. Results: 237 surgeons from 49 states and 1 Canadian territory responded; 60% of participants had been in practice for 20 or more years, and 70% did not pursue subspecialty training. Valuable skills identified for rural surgeons were: endoscopy, advanced laparoscopy, and basic non-general surgery subspecialty procedures. Regardless of years of practice or setting, respondents felt that rural experience during residency was highly valuable (82%) and overwhelmingly supported training future rural surgeons at residency programs with broad general surgery experiences and high case volumes with no or few fellows. Conclusions: Practicing rural surgeons identify endoscopy, basic non-general surgery subspecialty procedures, and advanced laparoscopy as key components of their current practice. These skills may not be strongly emphasized in traditional general surgery training programs. Surgical educators should focus on developing curricula that emphasize these areas in order to prepare residents for careers in rural surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e229-e233
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Curriculum development
  • General Surgery
  • Medical Knowledge
  • Needs assessment
  • Patient Care
  • Rural surgery
  • Surgical Education
  • Systems-Based Practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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