Resident attitudes toward Robotic Surgery across surgical specialties

Abdul Q Alarhayem, MD, Michelle Savu, MD, Udit Jain, MS. UTHSCSA

Background: The field of robotic surgery has undergone substantial growth and change over the last decade. The purpose of this survey was to study the current experiences, attitudes and opinions of residents across surgical subspecialties in the United States towards robotic surgery.

Methods: Eighty five general surgery, urology, and gynecology residents attending didactic conferences were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their experiences with robotic surgery.

Results: Sixty one of the surveyed residents across PGY levels responded. Forty eight percent of respondents reported > 50 surgical procedures were performed robotically in their specialty in the last year, while 25% cited more than 100 procedures. This did not vary across surgical subspecialties. Fifty two percent of respondents reported working with 3-4 staff surgeons who performed robotic procedures in their specialty, while 36 % reported working with more than 5 surgeons. 80% of urology residents felt robotics would play an important role in their post-residency practice, compared to 45% of gynecology residents, and 38% of general surgery residents. 88% of residents either agreed or strongly agreed that having the robotic surgery skillset would make them more attractive to future employers, and 68% agreed or strongly agreed that it would improve patient care. Despite the majority of residents (71.7%) reporting their current experience with robotic surgery training to be either poor or below average (did not vary significantly across specialties or PGY level), less than 20% reported interest in pursuing post-graduate robotic training. 62% of residents felt the lack of formalized training was the primary barrier to being able to perform robotic surgery and less than 15% of residents cited a lack of interest.

Conclusion: The majority of residents across surgical subspecialties are exposed to robotic surgery in the operating room. Many feel robotics will play a role in their future practice, yet report their current experience to be poor or below average. Most residents find the absence of formalized training during residency to be the primary barrier to achieving proficiency.

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