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J Am Coll Surg. 2008 Dec;207(6):793-800, 800.e1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2008.08.003. Epub 2008 Sep 27.

Attracting surgical clerks to surgical careers: role models, mentoring, and engagement in the operating room.

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Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.



Declining interest in careers in surgery among medical students has contributed to growing concerns about the surgical workforce. Although the medical student clerkship is likely to play an important role in shaping students' impressions of careers in surgery, little is known about the nature of this process. This study was designed to identify those aspects of the clerkship that are associated with medical students expressing an interest in surgery at the end of the clerkship.


Medical students completed a survey at the end of the surgical clerkship assessing characteristics of the clerkship experience and students' level of interest in pursuing a career in surgery. The survey also included open-ended questions about students' reasons for having increased or decreased interest in surgery, which were systematically analyzed to complement quantitative findings.


Students who sutured (p = 0.001), drove the camera (p = 0.01), stated that they felt involved in the operating room (p = 0.009), and saw residents (p = 0.03) and attendings (p = 0.0003) as positive role models were more likely to be interested in surgery. After adjusting for covariates, students who sutured in the operating room were 4.8 times as likely to be interested in surgery (95% CI, 1.5 to 14.9) and students who drove the camera were 7.2 times as likely to be interested in surgery (95% CI, 1.1 to 46.8).


Students who participate actively in the operating room and those who are exposed to positive role models are more likely to be interested in pursuing a career in surgery. To optimize students' clerkship experiences and attract top candidates to the field of surgery, clerkship directors should encourage meaningful engagement of students in the operating room and facilitate mentoring experiences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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