Correlation of Scholarly Activity and Departmental Clinical Productivity in a Surgical Subspecialty

Published:November 22, 2022DOI:



      Promotion within academic surgery involves demonstrated excellence in administrative, clinical, and scholarly activities. The present study analyzes the relationship between scholarly and clinical productivity in the field of reconstructive microsurgery.


      This is a retrospective cohort study of microsurgery fellowship directors (MFDs). Data on clinical productivity were obtained from the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery and scholarly productivity from Scopus. Outcomes were department annual free flap volume, number of publications, and h-index. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and nonparametric tests were used to compare continuous variables.


      Thirty-nine MFDs were included in this study. All were plastic surgery residency trained and 38% trained under the independent training pathway. Most underwent formal fellowship training in reconstructive microsurgery (89%). The top three microsurgery fellowships trained 37% of all MFDs. Twenty-five percent of MFDs trained at the institution where they ultimately became program director. Twenty percent of MFDs had an additional degree (4 MS, 2 PhD, and 1 MBA). The median number of annual free flaps performed per institution was 175 (interquartile range [IQR] 122). The median h-index was 17 (IQR 13) resulting from 48 (IQR 99) publications. There was a correlation between department annual free flap volume and h-index (r = 0.333, P = 0.038).


      There is a correlation between academic productivity of MFDs and the clinical productivity of their department. This study provides a benchmark for aspiring reconstructive microsurgeons.


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