Research Article|Articles in Press

Residency graduates should not be expected to perform hypospadias repair without fellowship training: Results from a survey of SPU membership



      Trainee autonomy has eroded over time as surgery has become more subspecialized and as attending oversight has increased, causing many trainees to seek additional fellowship training beyond residency. Less clear is whether there are cases that attendings view as “fellowship-level” or “privileged” cases in which resident-level trainees should not have high levels of autonomy due to complexity or high-stakes outcomes.


      We sought to better understand current attitudes and practices with regards to trainee autonomy in hypospadias repair as it represents a high complexity procedure within pediatric urology.

      Study design

      We administered a RedCap survey to the SPU membership, asking respondents to describe the level of autonomy afforded to trainees in various types of hypospadias repair (distal, midshaft, proximal, perineal) as measured by the Zwisch scale. The Zwisch scale describes the role of the attending in the attending-trainee relationship in a low-to-high trainee autonomy fashion: show and tell; active help; passive help; supervision only.


      177 of 761 (23%) unique recipients completed our survey and 174 of 177 (98%) of respondents felt that trainees should not perform hypospadias repair independently in practice without additional fellowship training. Among pediatric urologists who train residents, trainee autonomy as measured by the Zwisch scale decreased as the type of hypospadias repair moved from distal to proximal.


      There was near unanimous agreement among respondents that urology trainees should not perform hypospadias repair in practice without additional pediatric urology fellowship training, and that current practice affords little trainee autonomy in hypospadias repair at the resident level. These findings introduce a new wrinkle into the issue of trainee autonomy: cases in which trainees perhaps should not have autonomy. Concurrently, the concern with such findings is that this intentional lack of autonomy may extend to other urologic procedures that one would expect trainees to be able to perform independently.


      Summary figure
      Graphical AbstractTrainee autonomy as assessed by the Zwisch scale for distal, midshaft, proximal, and perineal hypospadias repair.


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