Background: The field of postgraduate minimally invasive surgery/gastrointestinal surgery (MIS/GIS) training has undergone substantial growth and change. To determine whether fellowships are meeting a strategic need in training, we conducted a survey to assess the current status and trends of change in MIS/GIS fellowships. Methods: A survey was distributed to fellows currently in MIS/GIS programs in the United States and Canada in 2003 and 2006. Fellows were asked to describe demographics as well as their experience both during fellowship and residency. We compared this with aggregate data of resident experience through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) case logs, data tracked by industry, and program data from the Fellowship Council (FC) web site. Results: There were 54 responses to the 75 surveys distributed in 2006 (72% response rate). MIS fellows performed more laparoscopic cases during their residency than the average graduating chief resident, but did not feel competent to perform advanced laparoscopic surgery. However, combining fellowship numbers with residency numbers does suggest that the total experience provides competency in a wide variety of procedures. Conclusions: It seems that the MIS/GIS Fellowship is meeting a real need among graduating surgical residents; fellows felt unprepared for clinical practice at the completion of residency. It is encouraging to note the improvements in fellowship structure, standards, and overall experience, brought by the efforts of the FC. It is hoped that this report of the state of MIS fellowship with a comprehensive review of current data will aid in further evaluation and improvement.
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