South African Journal of Surgery
On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361
OBJECTIVE: To ascertain junior doctors' awareness of the scope of public-sector plastic surgery practice. METHOD: A 12-part questionnaire asked the respondents to name, from a list, the specialty they felt was best equipped to manage patients with specific conditions. RESULTS: The data demonstrate that perception of the scope of plastic and reconstructive surgery is grossly limited. Although plastic surgeons were associated with reconstructive procedures, they were not necessarily identified as primary surgeons for procedures that they commonly perform. A significant number of respondents believed that plastic surgeons are seldom the first line of referral, and are more involved in cases with aesthetic rather than functional sequelae. DISCUSSION: These findings should be regarded with concern, particularly in light of the fact that these doctors will be responsible for carrying the burden of primary care delivery in South Africa and for referrals to secondary and tertiary levels of care. The study motivates for increased exposure to plastic surgery during undergraduate and postgraduate medical training.