Subspecialization in pediatric surgery: Results of a survey to the American Pediatric Surgical Association

On Behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Surgery Delivery of Surgical Care Committee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Current practice patterns and opinions regarding subspecialization within pediatric surgery are not well known. We aimed to characterize the prevalence of and attitudes surrounding subspecialization within pediatric surgery. Methods: An anonymous survey regarding subspecialization was distributed to all nonresident members of the American Pediatric Surgical Association. Results: Of 1118 surveys, we received 458 responses (41%). A majority of respondents labeled themselves ‘general pediatric surgeons’ (63%), while 34% considered themselves general surgeons with a specific clinical focus, and 3% reported practicing solely within a specific niche. Subspecialists commonly serve as consultants for relevant cases (52%). Common niches included oncology (10%) and anorectal malformations (9%). Subspecialists felt to be necessary included transplant (79%) and fetal (78%) surgeons. Opinions about subspecialization were variable: 41% felt subspecialization improves patient care while 39% believe it is detrimental to surgeon well-roundedness. Only 10% felt subspecialists should practice solely within their subspecialty. Practicing at an academic hospital or fellowship program correlated with subspecialization, while length of time in practice did not. Conclusion: While pediatric surgeons report that subspecialization may benefit patient care, concerns exist regarding the unfavorable effect it may have on the individual surgeon. A better understanding of how subspecialization affects quality and outcomes would help clarify its utility. Type of study: Review article. Level of evidence: Level V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2058-2063
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Pediatric surgery
  • Specialization
  • Subspecialization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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