What Is the Current Status of Global Health Activities and Opportunities in US Orthopaedic Residency Programs?
Interest in developing national health care has been increasing in many fields of medicine, including orthopaedics. One manifestation of this interest has been the development of global health opportunities during residency training.
We assessed global health activities and opportunities in orthopaedic residency in terms of resident involvement, program characteristics, sources of funding and support, partner site relationships and geography, and program director opinions on global health participation and the associated barriers.
An anonymous 24-question survey was circulated to all US orthopaedic surgery residency program directors (n = 153) by email. Five reminder emails were distributed over the next 7 weeks. A total of 59% (n = 90) program directors responded.
Sixty-one percent of responding orthopaedic residencies facilitated clinical experiences in developing countries. Program characteristics varied, but most used clinical rotation or elective time for travel (76%), which most frequently occurred during Postgraduate Year 4 (57%) and was used to provide pediatric (66%) or trauma (60%) care. The majority of programs (59%) provided at least some funding to traveling residents and sent accompanying attendings on all ventures (56%). Travel was most commonly within North America (85%), and 51% of participating programs have established international partner sites although only 11% have hosted surgeons from those partnerships. Sixty-nine percent of residency directors believed global health experiences during residency shape future volunteer efforts, 39% believed such opportunities help attract residents to a training program, and the major perceived challenges were funding (73%), faculty time (53%), and logistical planning (43%).
Global health interest and activity are common among orthopaedic residency programs. There is diversity in the characteristics and geographical locations of such activity, although some consensus does exist among program directors around funding and faculty time as the largest challenges.