Outreach in surgery at the undergraduate level: an opportunity to improve surgical interest among women?

Am Surg. 2011 Oct;77(10):1412-5.


Medical career choice is often formed at the premedical level, thus surgeons must reach out to undergraduates to enhance interest in surgery. Because there is a predominance of women among undergraduates (57%), this outreach also serves as an opportunity to introduce women to a surgical career. We developed an undergraduate course ("Surgery 99") offering course credit for participation in clinical research projects in surgery, shadowing surgeons in the operating room, and receiving mentorship for a surgical career. Six surgeons (50% women) served as course instructors. The final exam was a thesis with oral presentation. For enrollment, 132 students applied and 13 were accepted each quarter. Eleven students (85%) were women. None of the students had prior exposure to surgery. All but one student (93%) found the experience met or exceeded their expectations. Upon exit, knowledge attained was ranked highest, followed by observation in the operating room, and clinical research experience. All found that the course affirmed their decision to attend medical school and promoted their interest in surgery residency. We demonstrate a successful model for outreach in surgery at the undergraduate level that can positively influence interest in a surgical career, especially among women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Career Choice*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physicians, Women*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult