Formative research experiences in pediatric surgeons: a mixed methods study of Pediatric Trauma Society members

  • Cory McLaughlin
  • Erica Barin
  • Henri Ford
  • Jeffrey Upperman
  • Laura Cassidy
  • Rita V. BurkeEmail author
Original Article



A career in pediatric surgery has historically required extensive research experience, but the optimal research training is not well defined. The purpose of this study was to explore the formative research experiences among pediatric surgeons.


A 1-h focus group was held with 14 pediatric surgeons at the 2017 Pediatric Trauma Society annual meeting. A 17-item survey was also administered. Questions were intended to elicit discussion of prior research experiences. A qualitative analysis of the dialogue was performed.


Seventy-seven percent of respondents completed a research fellowship. Most (77%) currently conduct clinical research. Participants most frequently desired additional training in study design (50%), NIH funding (43%), and grant preparation (43%). Seven themes were identified from the focus group: (1) Early research exposure is rudimentary; (2) Resume-building was a motivation; (3) Mentorship is important; (4) Institutional resources are vital; (5) Independent learning is necessary; (6) Protected time is limited; and (7) Basic science research is not always practical.


Many pediatric surgeons feel that their research training can be improved upon. Formal mentorship, dedicated research time, and institutional resources were perceived to be important factors. Education in research study design, grant writing, and NIH funding may be beneficial.

Level of evidence

V, expert opinion.


Research experience Pediatric surgery 



The authors report no external funding source for this study. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Institutional Review Board Approval # CHLA-17-00384.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cory McLaughlin
    • 1
  • Erica Barin
    • 1
  • Henri Ford
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Upperman
    • 1
  • Laura Cassidy
    • 2
  • Rita V. Burke
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Pediatric Surgery, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Division of EpidemiologyMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA

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