Educational Program Rankings Are Independently Associated With Residents’ Academic Career Trajectory in Neurological Surgery

Adham M. Khalafallah, Adrian E. Jimenez, Marcus Daniels, Ali Bydon, Alan R. Cohen, Rafael J. Tamargo, Timothy Witham, Judy Huang, Henry Brem, Debraj Mukherjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Many studies have sought to determine predictors of academic career placement in surgical subspecialities. However, previous research has yet to establish whether the ranking of a surgeon's undergraduate institution or medical school is significantly associated with pursuit of an academic career. The purpose of this study was to investigate these novel factors’ predictive impact on an academic career in the surgical subspeciality of neurosurgery. Factors investigated included undergraduate university rankings, medical school rankings, and residency program rankings. Design: Data were retrospectively collected for 884 alumni of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education neurological surgery residency programs. Bivariate analyses were conducted to determine covariates for a logistic regression model, and multivariate analysis was performed with 13 covariates to determine which factors were independently associated with academic career trajectory. Results: In multivariate analysis, factors that were independently associated with an academic career in neurological surgery included having 1 year or more of protected research time during residency (odds ratio [OR] =1.96, p = 0.020), attending a “top” undergraduate university (OR =1.88, p = 0.00033), attending a “top” research medical school (OR = 1.53, p = 0.031) attending a residency program affiliated with a “top” research medical school (OR = 1.78, p = 0.012), possessing a Master of Science (OR = 3.46, p = 0.00097), or Doctor of Philosophy (OR = 2.05, p = 0.0019) degree, and completing a clinical fellowship (OR = 2.56, p = 1.90 × 10−8). Conclusions: Our study establishes 3 novel factors for predicting residents’ choice of pursuing an academic career in neurological surgery, namely undergraduate university rank, medical school rank, and completing residency at a program affiliated with a “top” research medical school. Such findings reinforce the notion that educational and training environments are key in shaping the career trajectory of future academic surgical subspecialists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1312-1320
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • academic career
  • graduate medical education
  • neurosurgery
  • residency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Surgery


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