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Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship Applicants: Trends over Time and the Impact of Board Certification Eligibility



Complex general surgical oncology (CGSO) fellowships recently obtained Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation and board certification eligibility. We aimed to characterize the applicant pool and identify factors predictive of matching into our program.


We conducted a retrospective review of CGSO fellowship applications to a major cancer center from 2008 to 2018. Data were analyzed for trends over time, including a comparison of pre- versus post-American Board of Surgery (ABS) certification eligibility.


A total of 846 applications were reviewed. Most applicants (86.2%) trained in a US residency program; 58.4% performed ≥ 1 research year during residency; 29.6% had a dual degree. Fewer applicants (34.5%) were female, a trend which did not change over time. Post-ABS, applicants were more likely to complete ≥ 1 year between residency and fellowship (20.9% versus 13.2%, p = 0.003), to be in practice at the time of application (12.2% versus 6.6%, p = 0.005), and to reapply (5.5% versus 1.0%, p < 0.001). Post-ABS applicants listed more peer-reviewed publications (8 [interquartile range (IQR) 4, 15] versus 5 [IQR 2, 10]; p < 0.001). On multivariable analysis, factors associated with matching into our program included: US allopathic medical school graduation [odds ratio (OR) 4.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.8–11.7], Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society distinction (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.6–4.7), dual degree (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.1–3.4), and performance of a clinical/research rotation at our institution (OR 4.9, 95% CI 2.2–10.7).


After establishment of CGSO board certification eligibility, applicants were more likely to apply while in practice and to reapply. A number of factors, including having a dual degree and rotating at our institution, were associated with matriculation.

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The authors would like to thank Susan K. Hogue (Department of Surgical Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center) for administrative assistance with data collection. Funding Sources: Dr. Heather Lillemoe is supported by National Institutes of Health grant T32CA009599 and the MD Anderson Cancer Center support grant (P30 CA016672).

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Correspondence to Elizabeth G. Grubbs MD, MS.

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Lillemoe, H.A., Scally, C.P., Adams, C.L. et al. Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship Applicants: Trends over Time and the Impact of Board Certification Eligibility. Ann Surg Oncol 26, 2667–2674 (2019).

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