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What are heads of department looking for in new general surgeons in Aotearoa New Zealand?

ANZ Journal of Surgery 2023 November 15
BACKGROUND: Training pathways vary significantly after completion of the general surgery surgical education and training (SET) program due to increasing sub-specialization. Aotearoa New Zealand requires a diverse range of general surgeons. Appointment of new consultant surgeons can be an opaque process; trainees are often uncertain how to tailor their training to that required by potential employers. Heads of departments (HODs) are influential in new appointments, and their opinions on desirable candidate attributes are valuable.

METHODS: An online survey was conducted in March 2023. All public hospital general surgery HODs were invited to participate. The survey sought opinions on the importance of attributes, skills and experience when appointing a new consultant general surgeon.

RESULTS: The response rate was 70% (14/20) including 6 of 7 HODs from tertiary hospitals and 8 of 13 from secondary hospitals. The top three desirable factors were all personal attributes (being a team player, having a strong work ethic, and good interpersonal skills). 10 of 14 respondents disagreed that SET completion alone is sufficient without the need for further training. Most respondents preferred at least 2 years of fellowship training, except for trauma and endocrine surgery, where 1 year was frequently considered sufficient. Only one respondent agreed formal research training is highly valued.

CONCLUSION: Trainees would be wise to obtain training desired by the majority of HODs while building an individualized profile of attributes, skills and experience tailored to hospitals they may wish to work in. The findings should be considered by organizations responsible for general surgical training and workforce planning.

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