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BACKGROUND: The quality of surgical training has been highlighted as one of the most important patient safety issues in the future. Training surgeons and supporting them to do their best should be considered integral in providing optimum and safe care for the individual patient and the best possible return on investment in training medical professionals. In 2011, an international consensus statement defined fundamental principles for surgical training. PURPOSE: This study examines orthopaedic surgical training to explore the similarities and differences in the requirements for trainees to obtain board certification in ten countries. METHODS: Countries of the Commonwealth Health Care Comparison: Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland were chosen to be compared. The relevant information was extracted from official information from authorities and administrative bodies. RESULTS: The study revealed significant differences in duration, organisation and assessment of training. So-called "competency-based" training is not featured in every country, and the manner of its implementation is variable. In particular, the numbers in surgical cases required to be accredited varies by country ranging from 1260 (UK) to 340 (Norway). CONCLUSION: Despite the recommendation in 2011 for some degree of uniformity across surgical training in industrialised countries, evidence suggests wide variation in the training programmes which is likely to be a concern in both quality of training as well as present and future patient safety.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Surg

Publication Date





Caseloads, Competency-based training, Curriculum, International comparison, Surgical training