European Training

Training is the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity and performance. It forms the core of apprenticeships and provides the backbone of content at institutes of neurosurgery.

In addition to the basic training required for a trade, occupation or profession, observers of the labor-market recognize as of 2008 the need to continue training beyond initial qualifications: to maintain, upgrade and update skills throughout working life. People within many professions and occupations may refer to this sort of training as professional development.

The introduction of the European Working Time directive 2003/88/EC has led to a reduction of the working hours with distinct impact on the clinical and surgical activity of neurosurgical residents in training.

A survey was performed among European neurosurgical residents between 06/2014 and 03/2015. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between responder-specific variables (e.g., age, gender, country, postgraduate year (PGY)) and outcome (e.g., working time).

A total of 652 responses were collected, of which n = 532 responses were taken into consideration. In total, 17.5, 22.1, 29.5, 19.5, 5.9, and 5.5 % of European residents indicated to work <40, 40-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, or >80 h/week, respectively. Residents from France and Turkey (OR 4.72, 95 % CI 1.29-17.17, p = 0.019) and Germany (OR 2.06, 95 % CI 1.15-3.67, p = 0.014) were more likely to work >60 h/week than residents from other European countries. In total, 29 % of European residents were satisfied with their current working time, 11.3 % indicated to prefer reduced working time. More than half (55 %) would prefer to work more hours/week if this would improve their clinical education. Residents that rated their operative exposure as insufficient were 2.3 times as likely as others to be willing to work more hours (OR 2.32, 95 % CI 1.47-3.70, p < 0.001). Less than every fifth European resident spends >50 % of his/her working time in the operating room. By contrast, 77.4 % indicate to devote >25 % of their daily working time to administrative work. For every advanced PGY, the likelihood to spend >50 % of the working time in the OR increases by 19 % (OR 1.19, 95 % CI 1.02-1.40, p = 0.024) and the likelihood to spend >50 % of the working time with administrative work decreases by 18 % (OR 0.84, 95 % CI 0.76-0.94, p = 0.002).

The results of this survey on >500 European neurosurgical residents clearly prove that less than 40 % conform with the 48-h week as claimed by the WTD2003/88/EC. Still, more than half of them would chose to work even more hours/week if their clinical education were to improve; probably due to subjective impression of insufficient training 1).


An electronic survey was sent to European neurosurgical residents between 06/2014 and 03/2015. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to assess the effect size of the relationship between responder-specific variables (e.g., age, gender, postgraduate year (PGY), country) and the outcomes (e.g., satisfaction).

A total of 652 responses were collected, of which n = 532 were taken into consideration. Eighty-five percent were 26-35 years old, 76 % male, 62 % PGY 4 or higher, and 73.5 % working at a university clinic. Satisfaction rates with theoretical education such as clinical lectures (overall: 50.2 %), anatomical lectures (31.2 %), amongst others, differed largely between the EANS member countries. Likewise, satisfaction rates with practical aspects of training such as hands-on surgical experience (overall: 73.9 %), microsurgical training (52.5 %), simulator training (13.4 %), amongst others, were highly country-dependant. In general, 89.1 % of European residents carried out the first surgical procedure under supervision within the first year of training. Supervised lumbar-/cervical spine surgeries were performed by 78.2 and 17.9 % of European residents within 12 and 24 months of training, respectively, and 54.6 % of European residents operate a cranial case within the first 36 months of training. Logistic regression analysis identified countries where residents were much more or much less likely to operate as primary surgeons compared to the European average. The caseload of craniotomies per trainee (overall: 30.6 % ≥10 craniotomies/month) and spinal procedures (overall: 29.7 % ≥10 spinal surgeries/month) varied throughout the countries and was significantly associated with more advanced residency (craniotomy: OR 1.35, 95 % CI 1.18-1.53, p < 0.001; spinal surgery: OR 1.37, 95 % CI 1.20-1.57, p < 0.001) 2).


1) Stienen MN, Netuka D, Demetriades AK, Ringel F, Gautschi OP, Gempt J, Kuhlen D, Schaller K. Working time of neurosurgical residents in Europe-results of a multinational survey. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2015 Nov 14. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26566781.
2) Stienen MN, Netuka D, Demetriades AK, Ringel F, Gautschi OP, Gempt J, Kuhlen D, Schaller K. Neurosurgical resident education in Europe-results of a multinational survey. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2015 Nov 17. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26577637.

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