Publication Feature: North-South surgical training partnerships: a systematic review

Tim Greive-Price (current MGSC student), Hardee Mistry and Robert Baird (BISC Advisory Committee Member) recently published a systematic review highlighting North-South surgical training partnership.

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Background: Fostering the success of surgical trainees from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) plausibly addresses the existing workforce deficit in a sustainable manner, but it is unclear whether and how these trainees are targeted as strategic learners for educational exchanges. The purpose of this review was to assess the quality and outcomes of existing literature on exchanges of surgical trainees between high-income countries (HICs) and LMICs.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of reported instances of surgical training exchanges between HICs and LMICs. After database searching, 2 independent reviewers evaluated titles, abstracts and manuscripts. Selected studies were critically appraised with the use the Critical Assessment Skills Programme Qualitative Checklist and analyzed for trainee level, institutions, countries and subspecialties, as well as reported outcomes of the exchange.
Results: Twenty-eight reports met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Most publications (18 [64%]) detailed North-to-South exchanges; 1 exchange was bidirectional. General surgery was the most common discipline identified, with 9 other subspecialties described involving learners at all phases of training. Reports were generally of good quality, although outcomes were reported variably, and most authors failed to acknowledge the ethical implications of their study.
Conclusion: The articles identified described a variety of surgical exchanges across disciplines, learner types and host/home countries. Few of the exchanges prioritized the learning of surgical trainees from LMICs. There is an increasing need to formalize these exchanges via clear goals and objectives, as well as to prioritize the proper matching of educational goals with local clinical needs.
Level of evidence: V – Evidence from systematic reviews of descriptive and qualitative studies.
Reference: Greive-Price T, Mistry H, Baird R. North-South surgical training partnerships: a systematic review. Can J Surg. 2020 Nov 30;63(6):E551-E561. doi: 10.1503/cjs.008219. PMID: 33253513; PMCID: PMC7747846.