Positive trends in neurosurgery enrollment and attrition: Analysis of the 2000-2009 female neurosurgery resident cohort

Jaclyn J. Renfrow, Analiz Rodriguez, Ann Liu, Julie G. Pilitsis, Uzma Samadani, Aruna Ganju, Isabelle M. Germano, Deborah L. Benzil, Stacey Quintero Wolfe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Objective Women compose a minority of neurosurgery residents, averaging just over 10% of matched applicants per year during this decade. A recent review by Lynch et al. raises the concern that women may be at a higher risk than men for attrition, based on analysis of a cohort matched between 1990 and 1999. This manuscript aims to characterize the trends in enrollment, attrition, and postattrition careers for women who matched in neurosurgery between 2000 and 2009. Methods Databases from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS) were analyzed for all residents who matched into neurosurgery during the years 2000-2009. Residents were sorted by female gender, matched against graduation records, and if graduation was not reported from neurosurgery residency programs, an Internet search was used to determine the residents' alternative path. The primary outcome was to determine the number of women residents who did not complete neurosurgery training programs during 2000-2009. Secondary outcomes included the total number of women who matched into neurosurgery per year, year in training in which attrition occurred, and alternative career paths that these women chose to pursue. Results Women comprised 240 of 1992 (12%) matched neurosurgery residents during 2000-2009. Among female residents there was a 17% attrition rate, compared with a 5.3% male attrition rate, with an overall attrition rate of 6.7%. The majority who left the field did so within the first 3 years of neurosurgical training and stayed in medicine-pursuing anesthesia, neurology, and radiology. Conclusions Although the percentage of women entering neurosurgical residency has continued to increase, this number is still disproportionate to the overall number of women in medicine. The female attrition rate in neurosurgery in the 2000-2009 cohort is comparable to that of the other surgical specialties, but for neurosurgery, there is disparity between the male and female attrition rates. Women who left the field tended to stay within medicine and usually pursued a neuroscience-related career. Given the need for talented women to pursue neurosurgery and the increasing numbers of women matching annually, the recruitment and retention of women in neurosurgery should be benchmarked and assessed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-839
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2016


  • Neurosurgery
  • Residency
  • Resident attrition
  • Resident retention
  • Women in neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Positive trends in neurosurgery enrollment and attrition: Analysis of the 2000-2009 female neurosurgery resident cohort'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this