Neurosurgery Education in the Medical School Curriculum: A Scoping Review

World Neurosurg. 2020 Sep 8;S1878-8750(20)32023-4. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2020.09.015. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Despite a high burden of neurosurgical disease that is often assessed, investigated and managed by generalists, to our knowledge, there is no specific medical school curriculum in neurosurgery. This scoping review was carried out to map available evidence pertaining to the provision of neurosurgery education in the medical school curriculum across the world.

Method: This review was conducted in accordance to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis extension for Scoping Reviews. Inclusion criteria were full-text articles published from 1999 onwards, that reported on neurosurgery education in the medical curriculum.

Results: Ten studies were included. Six were from the United Kingdom, two from the United States, and one each from Canada and Ireland. Seven studies reported perceptions of medical students and five reported perceptions of clinicians. Three main themes were identified. Neurosurgery was perceived as an important part of the general medical student curriculum by students and neurosurgeons but less so by medical school deans. Exposure to neurosurgery teaching was varied but when received, deemed useful and students were keen to receive more. Interest in a neurosurgical career amongst surveyed medical students was high.

Conclusions: The limited evidence has demonstrated variability of perceptions about the importance of neurosurgery amongst stakeholders and medical students' exposure to neurosurgery teaching. Our findings highlight the need to systematically assess specialty-specific teaching and determine adequacy. Stakeholders should include neurosurgeons, medical educators, general practitioners and the variety of specialists that play a crucial role in the management of patients with neurosurgical conditions.

Keywords: curriculum; medical education; neurosurgery; scoping review.