10+ Year Member
Nov 3, 2008
i am going to start a gen surg residency at a large university-based program. most of the residents, i know, pursue basic science research.

i would appreciate hearing from people with advice on how to develop an academic career in outcomes research.

(fyi: i will have an mph at the start of residency, but i have no published research. i have some class experience in biostatistics, epidemiology, PROs, patient safety ...)


10+ Year Member
Aug 30, 2006
Attending Physician
I never understood why surgeons do basic science. Not only is it not a good use of a surgeons time, but departments don't usually have enough resources to establish a lot of basic science labs for surgeons. Usually there will only be a few surgeons with their own basic science labs and the rest will do outcomes and clinical research.

Outcomes research is not too difficult to get into. You just need to be a bit computer savvy, have some clinical experience to know what to look for, and learn how to figure stuff out on your own. It will help if you have an outcomes researcher on staff, preferably one with a statistician, but in my experience, both of those are optional.

You can apply for the Robert Wood Johnson fellowship in outcomes research. I don't know much about that but I think they will hook you up with an outcomes researcher. Personally I dislike both outcomes and basic science research. I think surgeons should be doing clinical research. Outcomes research is a lot of smoke and mirrors and basic science is for PhDs... just my opinion.


7+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2009
I have an interest in outcomes research as well. I did a lab year before i left gen surg. One of the anesthesia attending does outcome research. I approached him, but he said I'd need to have rigorous statistical training (as you'd get with MPH) to be able to participate. If you have that, then I think all you need is a mentor. I don't. One of the things I'm contemplating for my redirected career out of surgery is how I could get MPH without incurring any more student loan debt, so as to do outcomes research.

I think it's going to be needed more as the government tries to take over health care.