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J Surg Educ. 2009 May-Jun;66(3):123-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2009.01.001.

A regional perspective on the attitudes of fourth-year medical students toward the field of general surgery.

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Department of Surgery, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68198-4030, USA.



Despite the stabilization of match rates, negative perceptions toward general surgery are still rife among medical students. The aim of this study was to describe the attitudes of fourth-year medical students towards general surgery at a regional level.


All fourth-year medical students in the state of Nebraska were invited to complete an online survey about their perceptions of the field of general surgery and the factors that influenced their residency choice.


Of the 145 respondents, 10% were interested in general surgery; this result is slightly higher than the national average. The main reasons cited by those who are choosing general surgery were personal factors; the perceived adverse external factors did not influence their career choice. In contrast, students who chose nonsurgical careers did so because of external factors, such as poor lifestyle and perceptions of an unfriendly environment.


The results of this study suggested regional variations in the level of interest toward general surgery and that interest in the field among medical students in Nebraska may be higher than what has been reported nationally. Students who chose general surgery did so for personal reasons, which were independent of external factors. Recruitment efforts into the field should be focused on those students who choose non-general surgery careers and on rectifying the negative influences that steered them away from the field.

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