Brief intervention by surgeons can influence students toward a career in surgery

Rosemary A. Kozar, Anthony Lucci, Charles C. Miller, Ali Azizzadeh, Christine S Cocanour, John R. Potts, Craig P. Fischer, Susan I. Brundage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Background. General surgery training programs are experiencing an alarming decrease in applicants. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether exposing students to surgery through a brief intervention early in their medical education could influence perceptions toward surgery as a career choice. Methods. First-year medical students were asked to rank 19 items coded on a Likert-type scale from 1 (not important) to 8 (very important) regarding their beliefs about surgery as a career both before and after a brief 1-h intervention with a panel of surgeons. Each panelist spoke about his or her professional and personal lives, followed by a question and answer period. Survey data were analyzed by Wilcoxon sign-rank and Spearman rank correlation. Results. Of 210 first year students, 121 (58%) students voluntarily attended and completed the presurvey and 94 (45%) the post, of which 82 were matched responses. Preintervention responses revealed that career opportunities, intellectual challenge, and the ability to obtain a residency position were positively correlated with surgery (P < 0.007) whereas length of training, lifestyle during residency, lifestyle after training, and work hours during residency were negatively correlated (P < 0.01). The following factors were significantly influenced by the intervention: academic opportunities, patient relationships, prestige, and gender distribution became more important whereas concern about debt and length of training became less important. Conclusions. Positive encounters with surgeons can favorably influence the perceptions of first-year medical students toward a career in surgery. In addition to addressing lifestyle issues, surgeons can and must make a concerted effort to interact with medical students early in their education and foster their interest throughout their career.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-169
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Career choice
  • Medical students
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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