With plastic surgery being at the forefront of innovation and discovery in multiple research disciplines, plastic surgery is poised for M.D./Ph.D. and research-focused M.D. trainees to be attracted to this field. Surprisingly, recent reports have shown that the number of surgeon-scientists pursuing research is on the decline, with these declines being even more pronounced within plastic surgery. It is essential that plastic surgery remains a leader in translational research by cultivating a group of individuals who have been trained in basic research and are thereby competitive to obtain extramural grant funding. To address this need, the authors review data elucidating why the research-oriented trainee may forego pursuing a career in plastic surgery. Although much of the existing literature is speculative, the authors identified the current number of M.D./Ph.D.s in plastic surgery using data obtained from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and investigated number of grants in plastic surgery compared to other medical and surgical fields using the National Institutes of Health Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools Expenditures and Results. The authors hypothesize that economic constraints and difficulty securing protected research time may be contributing to fewer trainees pursuing plastic surgery. The purpose of this article is (1) to discuss potential reasons deterring research-oriented trainees from pursuing careers as surgeon-scientists within plastic surgery; (2) to propose solutions that may attract more trainees interested in careers as surgeon-scientists to the field of plastic surgery; (3) to highlight the lack of quantitative data regarding surgeon-scientist training in plastic surgery; and (4) to propose and encourage future research avenues to help attract and nurture surgeon-scientists in plastic surgery.
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