Pediatric neurosurgery is a core component of neurosurgical residency training. Pediatric case minimums are established by the Neurosurgery Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Case minimums, by themselves, allow for great variability in training between programs. There are no prior data on how the residency programs meet these requirements. The authors’ objective was to gather information on pediatric neurosurgical education among the ACGME-accredited neurosurgery training programs in order to shape further pediatric neurosurgical educational efforts.
A 25-question survey about pediatric neurosurgical education was created by the Education Committee of the Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons and distributed to program directors of all 111 ACGME-accredited neurosurgery training programs.
The response rate was 77% (86/111). In 55% of programs the residents are rotated to a responder-designated “freestanding” children’s hospital, and 39% of programs rotate residents to a children’s hospital within a larger adult hospital or a general hospital. There are 4 or fewer pediatric neurosurgical faculty in 91% of programs. In 12% of programs less than 100 cases are performed per year, and in 45% more than 500 are performed. In 31% of responding neurosurgery residency programs there is also a pediatric neurosurgery fellowship program supported by the same sponsoring institution. Seventy-seven percent of programs have at least one specific pediatric neurosurgery rotation, with 71% of those rotations occurring during postgraduate year 3 and 50% occurring during postgraduate year 4. The duration of pediatric rotation varies from no specific rotation to more than 1 year, with 48% of residents spending 4–6 months on a pediatric rotation and 12% spending 7–11 months. Last, 17% of programs send their residents to external sites sponsoring other residency programs for their pediatric rotation.
There is great variety between neurosurgery training programs with regard to resident education in pediatric neurosurgery. This study’s data will serve as a baseline for future studies, and the authors hope the findings will guide further efforts in pediatric neurosurgical education in residency training programs.