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Evaluating Resident Perspectives on International Humanitarian Missions as Educationally and Professionally Beneficial
Peter Andrade, DO1, Matthew Chetta, MD1,2, Afaaf Shakir, BS2, Laurence Paek, MD2, Gordon Lee, MD2.
1Beaumont Health Systems, Royal Oak, MI, USA, 2Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.

PURPOSE: Opportunities for international humanitarian missions are highly sought after by medical students, residents, and attending plastic surgeons. The educational benefits and ethical considerations of trainees participating in these ventures have been debated. Currently, many surgical training programs do not have the necessary infrastructure to support missions of this sort, though resident interest in these experiences have been increasing. The perceived benefit and value of international work have not yet been well evaluated. In this study, we evaluate surgical residents’ perspectives on the personal and educational benefits of international mission work.
METHODS: A 24-item online questionnaire was designed to measure residents’ perspectives on humanitarian missions and potential educational benefits. Residents’ perceptions on how participation in these missions may have influenced their career path were also evaluated. This questionnaire was disseminated to the plastic surgery residents in accredited programs in the United States during the 2015-2016 academic year.
RESULTS: 123 responses were collected. Of these, 49 (40%) indicated they had participated in international mission work prior to beginning residency, while 74 (60%) had not. Of those who had participated, 57% (n=25) agreed that this experience impacted their choice to pursue plastic surgery as a specialty. Twenty-nine (24%) participated in one or more missions during residency. The most common type of mission work focused on cleft lip/palate repairs (n=24) followed by non-surgical medical relief (n=18) and general plastics/combined (n=6). Most respondents reported trips lasting 6-8 days (n=29, 48%), though several reported trips that lasted 9-10 days (n=6, 10%) and 11 days or more (n=16, 27%). When asked about the volume of cases performed, 32 (65%) reported participating in more than 15 cases, with 15 (31%) residents reporting participation in 26 cases or more. When asked to evaluate the educational benefits in light of the six core competencies from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, there was an overwhelmingly positive response.
CONCLUSION: Residents perceive international mission experiences to be valuable for professional development as well as an effective tool for surgical education, particularly in the setting of competency-based education goals and these ventures should be supported by training programs. An appropriately planned mission experience can impact the professional and educational development of the trainee.


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