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Am J Surg. 2014 Nov;208(5):860-867. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2014.04.016. Epub 2014 Jul 1.

Can I cut it? Medical students' perceptions of surgeons and surgical careers.

Author information

1
School of Health Professions Education, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands; Manchester Medical School, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Washington University, St Louis, MO, USA. Electronic address: hille@wudosis.wustl.edu.
2
Manchester Medical School, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.
3
School of Health Professions Education, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
4
Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recent years have seen a significant drop in applications to surgical residencies. Existing research has yet to explain how medical students make career decisions. This qualitative study explores students' perceptions of surgery and surgeons, and the influence of stereotypes on career decisions.

METHODS:

Exploratory questionnaires captured students' perceptions of surgeons and surgery. Questionnaire data informed individual interviews, exploring students' perceptions in depth. Rigorous qualitative interrogation of interviews identified emergent themes from which a cohesive analysis was synthesized.

RESULTS:

Respondents held uniform stereotypes of surgeons as self-confident and intimidating; surgery was competitive, masculine, and required sacrifice. To succeed in surgery, students felt they must fit these stereotypes, excluding those unwilling, or who felt unable, to conform. Deviating from the stereotypes required displaying such characteristics to a level exceptional even for surgery; consequently, surgery was neither an attractive nor realistic career option.

CONCLUSIONS:

Strong stereotypes of surgery deterred students from a surgical career. As a field, surgery must actively engage medical students to encourage participation and dispel negative stereotypes that are damaging recruitment into surgery.

KEYWORDS:

Career choice; Careers; Medical students; Recruitment; Stereotypes; Surgical careers

PMID:
25092269
DOI:
10.1016/j.amjsurg.2014.04.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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