BACKGROUND: Over the past decade, interest in general surgery careers has declined and the number of female medical school graduates has increased. This study was performed to identify the needs of both male and female surgical trainees and to guide design of training programs because attracting medical students to, and maintaining residents in, general surgery training programs can be difficult without a clear understanding of the training needs and priorities of both men and women. We hypothesized that men and women would express similar training priorities, yet have subjectively different experiences. STUDY DESIGN: Medical students, surgical residents, fellows, and fully trained surgeons affiliated with at least one of four major surgical societies were asked to complete a level-specific survey located on the American College of Surgeons Web site. RESULTS: There were 4,308 respondents (76% men). Men and women selected similar reasons for choosing a surgical career and residency program and criteria critical to a successful residency program, with women placing greater emphasis on clerkship experience and faculty diversity. There were no statistically significant differences between the men and women's perceptions of their own training. Although, when asked to evaluate whether certain aspects of training were comparable for male and female residents, women were statistically less likely to agree that their experiences were comparable with those of their male colleagues. CONCLUSIONS: Male and female surgical residents, fellows, and trained surgeons identified almost identical training needs and priorities yet women perceived disparate treatment.
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