Medical Students' Perceived Interests and Concerns for a Career in Neurosurgery.

TitleMedical Students' Perceived Interests and Concerns for a Career in Neurosurgery.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsGuadix SW, Younus I, Winston G, Eljalby M, Xia J, Nario JJose, Rothbaum M, Radwanski RE, Greenfield JP, Pannullo SC
JournalWorld Neurosurg
Date Published2020 07
KeywordsAdult, Career Choice, Female, Humans, Male, Neurosurgery, Students, Medical, United States

OBJECTIVE: The factors that attract and concern medical students about a career in neurosurgery have never been clearly characterized or delineated in a large nationwide cohort of medical students intending to pursue a career in neurosurgery. The objective of the present study was to characterize the factors that influence medical student interest in neurosurgery and assess the effects of a formal neurosurgery training course on participants' perceptions of a career in neurosurgery.

METHODS: Before the Medical Student Neurosurgery Training Camp for subinternship preparation, registered students were surveyed about their interest level in neurosurgery, factors that attracted or concerned them about a career in neurosurgery, attendance at a national neurosurgery conference or course, formal clinical neurosurgery exposure in medical school, and whether they had a resident or attending mentor in neurosurgery. At the end of the course, all the participants completed the surveyed again. P < 0.05 was considered significant on Pearson's χ and Fisher's exact tests for categorical variables and 2-tailed paired Student's t tests for continuous variables.

RESULTS: Of the training camp attendees, >95% completed both pre- and postcourse surveys, including 41 first-year, 19 second-year, 30 third-year, and 5 fourth-year medical school students. The most common factors that concerned students about a career in neurosurgery were work-life balance (76%) and competitiveness (56%). All factors of concern were decreased in the postcourse survey, except for competitiveness. A small cohort (8.4%) of students had no concerns about a career in neurosurgery; this cohort had doubled to 17% after the course (P < 0.05). The students that indicated no concern had a greater postcourse interest level in neurosurgery (95.8 ± 8.7 vs. 86.7 ± 20.5; P < 0.05). Student reasons for an interest in neurosurgery included intellectually stimulating work (94%), interest in neurosciences (93%), effect on patients (84%), innovation and new technology (80%), research opportunities (77%), and prestige (24%). All reasons increased after the course, with the exception of prestige, which decreased to 22%.

CONCLUSION: A training camp for students pursuing a neurosurgery subinternship was effective in providing transparency and positively influencing the factors that attract and concern students about a career in neurosurgery. Characterization of medical student perceptions of neurosurgery from a large, nationwide cohort of students pursuing a subinternship has provided novel data and could help identify factors protecting against burnout later in life.

Alternate JournalWorld Neurosurg
PubMed ID32272266