Endangered academia: preserving the pediatric surgeon scientist

Troy A. Markel, Nakul P. Valsangkar, Teresa M. Bell, Brandon A. Kiel, Teresa A. Zimmers, Leonidas G. Koniaris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background Pediatric surgery is one of the most difficult surgical fellowships to obtain. It requires stellar academic credentials and, often, dedicated time pursuing research. It is unknown, however, if pediatric surgeons maintain high academic output as faculty members. We hypothesized that the majority of pediatric surgeons do not pursue robust research activities as faculty, and therefore, over time, their academic productivity decreases. Methods Numbers of publications, citations, H-index, and NIH funding rates were determined for 4354 surgical faculty at the top-55 NIH based departments of surgery using websites, Scopus, NIH RePORTER, and Grantome. Continuous variables were compared with ANOVA and post-hoc Bonferroni; categorical variables by χ2 test. p < 0.05 was significant. Results In this dataset, 321 pediatric surgery (PS) faculty represented 7.4% of the cohort. Among PS faculty, 31% were assistant professors, 24% associate professors, 31% full professors and 13% had no academic rank. PS faculty had significantly more publications, a higher H index, and more high level NIH funding early in their careers at the assistant professor level compared to general surgeons. PS faculty at the associate professor level had equivalent high level NIH funding, but lower recentness and academic power compared to general surgeons. Professors of PS rebounded slightly, with only observed deficiencies in number of citations compared to general surgeons. Conclusions PS faculty in assistant professor ranks has higher scholarly productivity compared to equivalently ranked general surgeons. Despite some mild academic setbacks in midcareer, pediatric surgeons are able to maintain similar academic productivity to their general surgery colleagues by the time they are full professors. Level of evidence 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1083
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Academic metrics
  • Citations
  • H-index
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Pediatric surgery workforce
  • Publications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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