Factors Affecting the Interest in a Surgical Career among Medical Students at a Nonurban, Tertiary Care Academic Institution

Marvin Chau, Faisal Aziz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Present day medical students are inherently different from those in the past by growing up in a uniquely different environment that shapes their personal and professional values which affects their career decisions. Vascular surgery (VS) task force is facing a shortage in the near future. The purpose of this analysis is to gain a better understanding of the medical students’ perceptions about surgery in general and VS in particular. Our institution is a large, tertiary care medical center, which is in a nonurban location. Our goal was to identify any barriers in the recruitment of prospective students to VS and to implement directives to address such barriers. Methods: An online questionnaire was distributed to Penn State Hershey College of Medicine medical students. Our institution has an established 0 + 5 VS residency program and a VS interest group. It was designed to understand potential barriers in the recruitment of medical students choosing VS as a career. Survey consisted of 23 questions, which were carefully designed to collect information about student demographics, interest in medical profession in general, opinions about the field of surgery, and reasons for having an interest or no interest in VS. Results: Five hundred sixty medical students at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine were surveyed, of whom 143 (26%) completed the survey. About 58.7% were females and two-thirds of the respondents were in the age range of 21–25 years. The following factors were significantly associated with pursing surgical career: Medical Student Year III (odds ratio [OR] 0.36, confidence interval [CI] 0.19–0.69), surgical mentorship (OR 6.01, CI 1.30–28), wanting more exposure to VS (OR 6.15, CI 2.07–18.23), and opportunity to complete training within 5 years (OR 1.14, CI 1.03–1.25) (all P < 0.05). Specifically, for VS, following factors were found to be associated with increased likelihood of choosing a VS career: variety of operative cases, ability to operate on multiple anatomic areas of the body, and opportunity to complete training within 5 years (all P < 0.05). Following factors were associated with not choosing a VS career: surgical career not for me, long duration of surgical training, financial aid burden, marital status, and complexity of operations (all P < 0.05). Students cited following concerns for choosing a surgical career: burnout (61%), stress (12.8%), work hours (12.1%), and stressful life style (5.7%). Conclusions: Potential barriers of students in choosing a surgical career are fundamentally grounded in their overall perception of surgery but are independently associated with their level of education (medical student-III versus others), strong surgical mentorship, the desire to be exposed to VS, and the opportunity to complete subspecialty surgical training within 5 years. For VS, attractive factors were variety of operative cases, ability to operate on multiple anatomic areas of the body, and opportunity to complete training within 5 years. Overall, burnout associated with surgical career is the most common concern for medical students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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