American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
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Pathways to Plastic Surgery

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The following information is offered in an attempt to clarify the different models for entry into post-graduate medical training in Plastic Surgery following medical education in an allopathic, osteopathic or foreign medical school. The medical or osteopathic degree must be granted in the United States or Canada by an institution accredited by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Foreign medical graduates must hold a standard certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

There are two approved educational (training) models for Plastic Surgery, the Independent model and the Integrated model. A plastic surgery program director may choose to have both training models in a single training program. Several organizations provide governance for these models. These are the Residency Review Committee for Plastic Surgery (RRC-PS) of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which sets educational requirements and accredits training programs in Plastic Surgery; the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons (ACAPS), which helps coordinate the training activities of the programs; and The American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. (ABPS), which sets educational requirements, examines and certifies the graduates of those programs. In both the integrated and the independent models, plastic surgery training is divided into two parts:

  1. The acquisition of a basic surgical science knowledge base and experience with basic principles of surgery (PREREQUISITE TRAINING).
  2. Plastic surgery principles and practice, which includes advanced knowledge in specific plastic surgery techniques (REQUISITE TRAINING).

In the independent model, the residents complete the PREREQUISITE TRAINING outside of the plastic surgery residency process, whereas in the integrated model, residents complete their training in the same training program. In a combined or coordinated program, residents complete the prerequisite training at the general surgery training program in the same institution as the plastic surgery program.

The Independent Model

The Integrated Model

Distinctions between the Integrated Model and the Independent "Combined" Model

Matching Directly from Medical School

Transfers into Integrated Residency Programs



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