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Published 10/1/2009
Rhonda Taira

OMeGA releases data on grants

Recipient program and populations data for 2009–2010 academic year

The OMeGA Medical Grants Association received 258 applications for the 2009–2010 academic year: 150 for fellowships in 9 orthopaedic specialties and 108 for residency/general education. As part of the application process, OMeGA collects information about the educational programs and the populations served. This information helps in the following ways:

  • It demonstrates the need for continuing support.
  • It provides a long view of the orthopaedic profession.
  • It enables us to compare populations served against the population in general.

For example, based on our current data, OMeGA can track past sources of funding against future sources of funding to monitor the need for support without any conflicts of interest. Our analysis shows that institutions provide the majority of the funding for a fellow, supplying an average of 68.2 percent of the support.

Less than half of fellowship programs (44.7 percent) received industry funding; the percent of support varied greatly. Government support also varies. For example, the Canadian programs that applied for OMeGA grants received about a quarter of their funding from the province (comparable to a U.S. state), significantly more than any U.S. programs.

Professional trends
Data collected during this first year will provide a baseline for tracking future trends. One measure is accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). More than half (56 percent) of U.S. fellowship programs that applied for OMeGA funding were ACGME-accredited; 81 percent were associated with an ACGME-accredited residency program. Nearly all (99 percent) residency programs—both allopathic and osteopathic—were ACGME-accredited.

The average fellowship program had 2.5 fellows, although some programs had as many as 10 fellows. Residency programs were larger, with an average of 5 residents per program. Here, too, however, the largest program had only 10 residents. Three out of four residency programs (76 percent) are in academic institutions; the remaining residency programs are in community hospitals.

Paralleling the U.S. population, fellowship programs serve primarily Caucasians (
Table 1). Not surprisingly, those age 65 or older account for nearly a third of the fellowship service population, even though this age group is only 12 percent of the U.S. population (2005 census).

Next month, we will share some of the aggregate fellow information gleaned from the first quarter reports provided by fellowship grant recipients. Fellow information is not requested until after the grant has been awarded. This follows the guidelines set by the American Association of Medical Colleges, keeps the fellow decision wholly in the hands of the academic institution, and ensures that there is no bias in OMeGA’s grant recipient decision-making process.

OMeGA will not publish any information about specific fellows, providing another separation between industry and academic institutions that is at the foundation of OMeGA’s existence.

Rhonda Taira is director, grants management, OMeGA Medical Grants Association.