Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of different surgical training pathways on the academic performance of plastic surgical divisions. Methods: Eighty-two academic parameters for 338 plastic surgeons (PS), 1737 general surgeons (GS), and 1689 specialist surgeons (SS) from the top 55 National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded academic departments of surgery were examined using data gathered from websites, SCOPUS, and NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools. Results: The median size of a PS division was 7 faculty members. PS faculty had lower median publications (P)/citations (C) (ie, P/C) than GS and SS (PS: 25/328, GS: 35/607, and SS: 40/713, P < 0.05). Publication and citation differences were observed at all ranks: assistant professor (PS: 11/101, GS: 13/169, and SS: 19/249), associate professor (PS: 33/342, GS: 40/691, and SS: 44/780), and professor (PS: 57/968, GS: 97/2451, and SS: 101/2376). PS had a lower percentage of faculty with current/former NIH funding (PS: 13.5%, GS: 22.8%, and SS: 25.1%, P < 0.05). Academic productivity for PS faculty was improved in integrated programs. P/C for PS faculty from divisions with traditional 3-year fellowships was 19/153, integrated 6-year residency was 25/329, and both traditional and 6-year programs were 27/344, P < 0.05. Craniofacial and hand fellowships increased productivity within the integrated residency programs. P/C for programs with a craniofacial fellowship were 32/364 and for those that additionally had a hand fellowship were 45/536. PS faculty at divisions with integrated training programs also had a higher frequency of NIH funding. Conclusions: PS divisions vary in degree of academic productivity. Dramatically improved scholarly output is observed with integrated residency training programs and advanced specialty fellowships.
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