It is estimated that nearly 47 million preventable deaths occur annually due the current worldwide deficit in surgical care; subsequently, the World Health Organization resolved unanimously to endorse a decree to address this deficit. Neurosurgeons from industrialized nations can help address the needs of underserved regions. Exposure during training is critical for young neurosurgeons to gain experience in international work and to cultivate career-long interest. Here, the authors explore the opinions of current residents and interest in global neurosurgery as well as the current state of international involvement, opportunities, and barriers in North American residency training.
An internet-based questionnaire was developed using the authors’ university’s REDCap database and distributed to neurosurgical residents from US ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education)–approved programs. Questions focused on the resident’s program’s involvement and logistics regarding international rotations and the resident’s interest level in pursuing these opportunities.
A 15% response rate was obtained from a broad range of training locations. Twenty-nine percent of respondents reported that their residency program offered elective training opportunities in developing countries, and 7.6% reported having participated in these programs. This cohort unanimously felt that the international rotation was a beneficial experience and agreed that they would do it again. Of those who had not participated, 81.3% reported interest or strong interest in international rotations.
The authors’ results indicate that, despite a high level of desire for involvement in international rotations, there is limited opportunity for residents to become involved. Barriers such as funding and rotation approval were recognized. It is the authors’ hope that governing organizations and residency programs will work to break down these barriers and help establish rotations for trainees to learn abroad and begin to join the cause of meeting global surgical needs. To meet overarching international neurosurgical needs, neurosurgeons of the future must be trained in global neurosurgery.