Factors Influencing a Medical Student’s Decision to Pursue Surgery as a Career
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Recent match trends from the National Resident Matching Program suggest that the number of allopathic medical students (MD) pursuing general surgery is declining. This decline may have profound consequences given the surgeon shortage predicted by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Early exposure to surgery opportunities may increase a student’s desire to pursue the specialty as a career. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect surgical activities have on promoting student interest in surgery.
Medical students (years 1–3) at the University of Illinois at Rockford completed a two-component activity: a questionnaire and laparoscopic box activity. Differences in lifestyle factors, psychomotor aptitude, and future career interests were compared.
A total of 64 medical students completed the activity. 45.3% of students reported that the activity positively influenced their decision to pursue a career in surgery. Rating of the importance of living in a rural versus urban community was an important lifestyle factor (p = 0.01) for students without rather than with an interest in surgery, 3.95 and 3.19, respectively. No differences were observed in other lifestyle factors.
Early exposure to surgical activities may foster interest in students who lacked previous intention to pursue the specialty.
The authors thank all students who agreed to participate in this study. Special thanks to Drs. Mark Zarnke and Michael McCarthy for reviewing the functionality of the laparoscopic box trainer.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
Nothing to disclose.
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