Background Research and innovation are crucial to advancements in medicine and improvements in patient care. The contribution of surgical fellowships to scholarly productivity is unclear. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of subspecialty fellowships on academic output in departments of surgery. Methods This cross-sectional study examined fellowships offered at the top 50 university-based National Institutes of Health-funded and top 5 academically prolific hospital-based departments of surgery. Publications, citations, and National Institutes of Health funding history were determined for 4,015 faculty. χ2 and t tests were used as appropriate. Results Cardiothoracic surgery fellowships are offered at all departments, while other surgical fellowships are offered in 52 of 55 departments (96.4%). Median department publications/citations increased with the number of fellowships offered in addition to cardiothoracic surgery: no fellowship (27 ± 93/437 ± 2,509), 1–3 fellowships (34 ± 90/559 ± 3,046), and 4 or more fellowships (40 ± 97/716 ± 3,200, P < .05). Significant divisional improvements in publications/citations and National Institutes of Health funding were observed for those with fellowship programs in pediatric, breast, and plastic surgery (P < .05). No differences in departmental National Institutes of Health funding rates were observed based on number of fellowships offered. Conclusion Based on publications/citations and National Institutes of Health funding, it seems that select fellowships are associated with improved scholarly activity. Departments may wish to consider the academic benefits of offering these fellowship types.
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