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J Surg Res. 2020 Aug 15;256:636-644. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2020.07.030. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Diversifying the surgical workforce is a critical component of improving care for underserved patients. To recruit surgeons from diverse backgrounds, we must understand how medical students choose their specialty. We investigate how preclinical students contemplate entering a surgical field.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted semistructured focus groups during two iterations of a seminar class called Service Through Surgery. Discussion goals included identifying student values and assessing how they inform early career decisions. We used a systematic, collaborative, and iterative process for transcript analysis, including developing a codebook, assessing inter-rater reliability, and analyzing themes.
RESULTS: Twenty-four preclinical medical students from diverse backgrounds participated in seven focus groups; most were women (16; 67%), in their first year of medical school (19; 79%), and interested in surgery (17; 71%). Participants ranked professional fulfillment, spending time with family, and serving their communities and/or underserved populations among their most important values and agreed that conducting groundbreaking research, working long hours, and finding time for leisure activities were the least important. We constructed a framework to describe student responses surrounding their diverse visions for service in future surgical careers through individual doctoring interactions, roles in academia, and broader public service.
CONCLUSIONS: Our framework provides a basis for greater understanding and study of the ways in which preclinical medical students think about their personal values and visions for service in potential future surgical careers. This research can guide early interventions in medical education to promote diversity and care for the underserved in surgery.