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Traditionally, medical students gain initial exposure to surgical fields during their third year of Medical School. Many pre-clinical medical students have little exposure to surgeons, and therefore may enter the third year clerkship with pre-conceived notions of surgeons, or surgery in general. By this time many students have already established preset attitudes and pre-conceived notions about surgeons and surgery. Our goal is to construct a program through which interest in surgery can be positively influenced in the pre-clinical years, and possibly attract talented students to the field. This program would also help better prepare students for a third year surgery clerkship. A voluntary Trauma and Acute Care surgery shadowing program was initiated by a group of medical students with the support of the Department of Surgery and the School of Medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, an urban, academic teaching hospital and level I trauma center. All medical students are invited to participate in one of three 12-hour shifts available each weekend. In the two years of the program 167 pre-clinical students, 141(85.5%) of which were in their first year of medical school, participated in taking trauma call. On average students witnessed 6.39 trauma alerts and 1.34 operative cases per shift (table 2). On average students indicated they benefited most from working with third and fourth year medical students. Based on the follow up survey there was a significant increase in interest in surgery following the shift. 88% of students noted the experience was a good learning experience and provided insight into 3rd year clerkship expectation. Lastly, 69% of students commented on how impressed they were with some aspect of trauma surgery, such as the camaraderie, medical management of patients, and wide breadth of knowledge. Based on the popularity of the program, we are continuing this program indefinitely, and it is being modeled by other departments within the School of Medicine.
Can early exposure to surgery help dispel preconceived notions of surgeons and surgery?
Develop a program to help dispel preconceived notions of surgeons and surgery.
Create a pathway towards mentorship for pre-clinical medical students.
Pettit, BJ Medical student concerns and fears before their third-year surgical clerkship.
Am J Surg. 2005 Apr;189(4):492-496.
Stroh, D.A., et al., Influencing medical student education via a voluntary shadowing program for trauma and acute care surgery. JAMA Surg, 2013. 148(10): p. 968-70.
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