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J Surg Educ. 2015 Nov-Dec;72(6):1195-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2015.05.014. Epub 2015 Jul 15.

Medical Students' Perceptions of Surgeons: Implications for Teaching and Recruitment.

Author information

1
School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
2
School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.
3
Research and Development in Medical Education, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
4
Department of Surgery, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.
5
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
6
Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California. Electronic address: nancy.ascher@ucsfmedctr.org.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study was to assess first-year medical students' implicit perceptions of surgeons, focusing on the roles of gender and demeanor (communal = supportive, associated with women; agentic = assertive, associated with men).

DESIGN:

Survey study. Each survey had 1 of 8 possible scenarios; all began with a short description of a surgeon who was described as accomplished and well trained, then varied by surgeon gender (male/female), surgeon demeanor (agentic/communal), and type of surgery (breast cancer/lung cancer). Using a 0 to 5 scale, respondents rated their perception of the surgeon through 5 questions. These 5 items were averaged to create a composite perception score scaled from 0 to 5.

SETTING:

Surveys were administered at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

PARTICIPANTS:

We administered surveys to 333 first-year medical students who could read English and voluntarily agreed to participate.

RESULTS:

A total of 238 students responded (71.5%). They preferred the communal vs agentic surgeon (4.2 ± 0.7 vs 3.9 ± 0.7, p = 0.002) and male medical students perceived surgeons more favorably than female medical students did (4.2 ± 0.6 vs 4.0 ± 0.8, p = 0.036). The preference score did not differ according to surgeon gender (female 4.12 vs male 3.98, p = 0.087). There were no significant interactions between the factors of student gender, surgeon gender, or demeanor. Students who reported an interest in surgery as a career did not perceive surgeons more favorably than the students interested in other fields (4.3 ± 0.7 vs 4.0 ± 0.7 respectively, p = 0.066).

CONCLUSIONS:

Based on our findings, surgeon educators would likely find success in teaching and recruiting medical students by employing a communal demeanor in their interactions with all students, regardless of the students' gender or stated interest in surgery.

KEYWORDS:

Interpersonal and Communication Skills; Practice-Based Learning and Improvement; Professionalism; demeanor; gender; medical student; surgeon

PMID:
26188741
DOI:
10.1016/j.jsurg.2015.05.014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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