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This article is the authors' final published version in World Journal of Orthopedics, Volume 12, Issue 6, June 2021, Pages 412 - 422.

The published version is available at Copyright © Schiller et al.


BACKGROUND: Fellowship directors (FDs) in sports medicine influence the future of trainees in the field of orthopaedics. Understanding the characteristics these leaders share must be brought into focus. For all current sports medicine FDs, our group analyzed their demographic background, institutional training, and academic experience.

AIM: To serve as a framework for those aspiring to achieve this position in orthopaedics and also identify opportunities to improve the position.

METHODS: Fellowship programs were identified using both the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the Arthroscopy Association of North America Sports Medicine Fellowship Directories. The demographic and educational background data for each FD was gathered via author review of current curriculum vitae (CVs). Any information that was unavailable on CV review was gathered from institutional biographies, Scopus Web of Science, and emailed questionnaires. To ensure the collection of as many data points as possible, fellowship program coordinators, orthopaedic department offices and FDs were directly contacted via phone if there was no response via email. Demographic information of interest included: Age, gender, ethnicity, residency/fellowship training, residency/fellowship graduation year, year hired by current institution, time since training completion until FD appointment, length in FD role, status as a team physician and H-index.

RESULTS: Information was gathered for 82 FDs. Of these, 97.5% (n = 80) of the leadership were male; 84.15% (n = 69) were Caucasian, 7.32% (n = 6) were Asian-American, 2.44% (n = 2) were Hispanic and 2.44% (n = 2) were African American, and 3.66% (n = 3) were of another race or ethnicity. The mean age of current FDs was 56 years old (± 9.00 years), and the mean Scopus H-index was 23.49 (± 16.57). The mean calendar years for completion of residency and fellowship training were 1996 (± 15 years) and 1997 (± 9.51 years), respectively. The time since fellowship training completion until FD appointment was 9.77 years. 17.07% (n = 14) of FDs currently work at the same institution where they completed residency training; 21.95% (n = 18) of FDs work at the same institution where they completed fellowship training; and 6.10% (n = 5) work at the same institution where they completed both residency and fellowship training. Additionally, 69.5% (n = 57) are also team physicians at the professional and/or collegiate level. Of those that were found to currently serve as team physicians, 56.14% (n = 32) of them worked with professional sports teams, 29.82% (n = 17) with collegiate sports teams, and 14.04% (n = 8) with both professional and collegiate sports teams. Seven residency programs produced the greatest number of future FDs, included programs produced at least three future FDs. Seven fellowship programs produced the greatest number of future FDs, included programs produced at least four future FDs. Eight FDs (9.75%) completed two fellowships and three FDs (3.66%) finished three fellowships. Three FDs (3.66%) did not graduate from any fellowship training program. The Scopus H-indices for FDs are displayed as ranges that include 1 to 15 (31.71%, n = 26), 15 to 30 (34.15%, n = 28), 30 to 45 (20.73%, n = 17), 45 to 60 (6.10%, n = 5) and 60 to 80 (3.66%, n = 3). Specifically, the most impactful FD in research currently has a Scopus H-index value of 79. By comparison, the tenth most impactful FD in research had a Scopus H-index value of 43 (accessed December 1, 2019).

CONCLUSION: This study provides an overview of current sports medicine FDs within the United States and functions as a guide to direct initiatives to achieve diversity equality.

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