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Steven O. Tenny, Kyle P. Schmidt and William E. Thorell

OBJECTIVE

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has pushed for more frequent and comprehensive feedback for residents during their training, but there is scant evidence for how neurosurgery residents view the current feedback system as it applies to providing information for self-improvement and goal formation. The authors sought to assess neurosurgery resident and staff perceptions of the current resident feedback system in providing specific, meaningful, achievable, realistic, and timely (SMART) goals. The authors then created a pilot project to improve the most unfavorably viewed aspect of the feedback system.

METHODS

The authors conducted an anonymous survey of neurosurgery residents and staff at an academic medical institution to assess SMART goals for resident feedback and used the results to create a pilot intervention to address the most unfavorably viewed aspect of the feedback system. The authors then conducted a postintervention survey to see if perceptions had improved for the target of the intervention.

RESULTS

Neurosurgery residents and staff completed an anonymous online survey, for which the results indicated that resident feedback was not occurring in a timely manner. The authors created a simple anonymous feedback form. The form was distributed monthly to neurosurgery residents, neurosurgical staff, and nurses, and the results were reported monthly to each resident for 6 months. A postintervention survey was then administered, and the results indicated that the opinions of the neurosurgery residents and staff on the timeliness of resident feedback had changed from a negative to a nonnegative opinion (p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

The required ACGME feedback methods may not be providing adequate feedback for goal formation for self-improvement for neurosurgery residents. Simple interventions, such as anonymous feedback questionnaires, can improve neurosurgery resident and staff perception of feedback to residents for self-improvement and goal formation.

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Michael Karsy, Fraser Henderson Jr., Steven Tenny, Jian Guan, Jeremy W. Amps, Allan H. Friedman, Alejandro M. Spiotta, Sunil Patel, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen and William T. Couldwell

OBJECTIVE

The analysis of resident research productivity in neurosurgery has gained significant recent interest. Resident scholarly output affects departmental productivity, recruitment of future residents, and likelihood of future research careers. To maintain and improve opportunities for resident research, the authors evaluated factors that affect resident attitudes toward neurosurgical research on a national level.

METHODS

An online survey was distributed to all US neurosurgical residents. Questions assessed interest in research, perceived departmental support of research, and resident-perceived limitations in pursuing research. Residents were stratified based on number of publications above the median (AM; ≥ 14) or below the median (BM; < 14) for evaluation of factors influencing productivity.

RESULTS

A total of 278 resident responses from 82 US residency programs in 30 states were included (a 20% overall response rate). Residents predominantly desired future academic positions (53.2%), followed by private practice with some research (40.3%). Residents reported a mean ± SD of 11 ± 14 publications, which increased with postgraduate year level. The most common type of research involved retrospective cohort studies (24%) followed by laboratory/benchtop (19%) and case reports (18%). Residents as a group spent on average 14.1 ± 18.5 hours (median 7.0 hours) a week on research. Most residents (53.6%) had ≥ 12 months of protected research time. Mentorship (92.4%), research exposure (89.9%), and early interest in science (78.4%) had the greatest impact on interest in research while the most limiting factors were time (91.0%), call scheduling (47.1%), and funding/grants (37.1%). AM residents cited research exposure (p = 0.003), neurosurgery conference exposure (p = 0.02), formal research training prior to residency (p = 0.03), internal funding sources (p = 0.05), and software support (p = 0.02) as most important for their productivity. Moreover, more productive residents applied and received a higher number of < $10,000 and ≥ $10,000 grants (p < 0.05). A majority of residents (82.4%) agreed or strongly agreed with pursuing research throughout their professional careers. Overall, about half of residents (49.6%) were encouraged toward continued neurosurgical research, while the rest were neutral (36.7%) or discouraged (13.7%). Free-text responses helped to identify solutions on a departmental, regional, and national level that could increase interest in neurosurgical research.

CONCLUSIONS

This survey evaluates various factors affecting resident views toward research, which may also be seen in other specialties. Residents remain enthusiastic about neurosurgical research and offer several solutions to the ever-scarce commodities of time and funding within academic medicine.