, Volume 35, Issue 12, pp 2617-2624
Date: 12 Oct 2011

Elective Global Surgery Rotations for Residents: A Call for Cooperation and Consortium

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International elective experiences are becoming an increasingly important component of American general surgery education. In 2011, the Residency Review Committee (RRC) approved these electives for credit toward graduation requirements. Previous surveys of general surgery program directors have established strong interest in these electives but have not assessed the feasibility of creating a national and international database aimed at educational standardization. The present study was designed to gain in-depth information from program directors about features of existing international electives at their institution and to ascertain interest in national collaboration.


This cross-sectional study of 253 United States general surgery program directors was conducted using a web-based questionnaire program.


Of the program directors who responded to the survey, twelve percent had a formal international elective in place at their institution, though 80% of these did not have a formal associated curriculum for the rotation. Sixty percent of respondents reported that informal international electives existed for their residents. The location, length, and characteristics of these electives varied widely. Sixty-eight percent of program directors would like to participate in a national and international database designed to facilitate standardization of electives and educational exchange.


In a world of increasing globalization, international electives are more important than ever to the education of surgery residents. However, a need for standardization of these electives exists. The creation of an educational consortium and database of international electives could improve the academic value of these electives, as well as provide increased opportunities for twinning and bidirectional exchange.