Predictors for Medical Students Entering a General Surgery Residency

National Survey Results

Published in: Surgery, v. 136, no. 3, Sep. 2004, p. 567-572

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2004

by Clifford Y. Ko, Jose J. Escarce, Laurence Baker, David J. Klein, Cassandra M. Guarino

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BACKGROUND: The number of general surgery (GS) residency applicants had been decreasing before 2003. This national survey of fourth-year medical students elucidates factors related to the basic surgery clerkship that are associated with the decision to enter a GS residency. METHODS: A national sample of 2250 fourth-year medical students from all 4-year allopathic US medical schools was surveyed in spring 2002. Multivariate analyses were performed to identify mutable predictors for students entering GS. RESULTS: Data from 1531 fourth-year medical students from 121 different medical schools (response rate=68%) showed that 5.6% planned to enter GS. In multivariate analyses, the strongest predictor of entering GS was satisfaction with the quality of attending teaching (odds ratio 2.14, P <.01) in surgery clerkships. Several clerkship factors, such as frequency of call nights and total hours worked., were not as strongly associated with entering GS residency, Subsequent analyses showed that predictors of satisfaction with the quality of attending teaching included intraoperative activities (ie, suturing, cutting, and stapling), having attending-led rounds, and performing a history and physical with an attending. Significant negative predictors of satisfaction included observing or retracting only in surgery. CONCLUSIONS: In this national survey, factors are identified that are significantly associated with students entering a GS residency. Some of these mutable factors may increase the pool of GS residency applicants.

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