Background: This study was undertaken to determine the impact of an academic summer research, shadowing, and mentorship program on students interested in medicine and surgery. Study Design: Forty-four (92%) of 48 participants of a summer research, shadowing, and mentorship program returned blinded questionnaires that focused on the program's impact on their scholarly skills, career choices, and goals. The program interfaced academic surgeons with students interested in careers in medicine and enabled students to participate in research projects, attend daily lectures, and shadow physicians in the operating room, clinic, and hospital. Proficiency in scholarly skills, before and after the program, was scored by the participants using a Likert scale (0 = none to 10 = proficient). Results: Ninety-three percent of participants were in or had completed college; only 7% had advanced degrees. With the program, proficiency in all categories assessed improved considerably, including medical terminology, abstract writing, statistical analysis, graph and table construction, article writing, and video production. During the last 5 years, participants coauthored 112 national presentations (29 video presentations), 46 published abstracts, and 57 peer-reviewed published articles. Ninety-two percent developed more favorable opinions of a career in medicine; 8% believed the experience deterred them from a career in medicine because of lifestyle and studious demands. Seventy-seven percent believed the program promoted a career in surgery; 82% believed it elevated their goals to become leaders in American medicine. Conclusions: Shadowing opportunities, mentoring, and didactic teaching of scholarly skills for college and graduate students foster academic productivity and elevation of career goals. Academic surgeons can favorably influence career choices and goals for students interested in careers in medicine and surgery.
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