Conference Coverage

Growing the pool of academic vascular surgeons



NEW YORK – Strategies for growing the pool of academic vascular surgeons might help avert the expected scarcity of physicians in this specialty, according to Peter K. Henke, MD, a professor of vascular surgery at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Dr. Henke recounted in a video interview key messages he delivered at a symposium on vascular and endovascular issues sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He argued for going back to basics to enlist residents and fellows completing their training to stay in the specialty and consider an academic position.

Many of these steps are known, such as verifying that mentors are available to encourage skill acquisition and providing adequate time to achieve an acceptable balance of research and clinical work.

However, a successful program would not solely focus on luring young and promising junior faculty, he said. A supportive atmosphere requires collaboration and support to flow both up and down the ranks of seniority where everyone benefits.As an example, he singled out midlevel faculty as vulnerable when programs are not developed to ensure support is equally distributed. He explained that midlevel faculty members denied the encouragement available to surgeons just initiating their career can feel abandoned when they are skilled but not yet leaders in their program.

The Society of Vascular Surgery is pursing several initiatives to address the projected shortage within this specialty, according to Dr. Henke, but he argues that leaders of academic programs have a role to play in helping make the specialty attractive, particularly for those considering an academic career.

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