Surgical education for the 21st century medical trainee: evidence-based considerations to optimize quality in surgical workshops for pre-clerkship medical students

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Neil E. D'Souza


Medical Education, Surgery, Simulation, Quality Improvement


Background: Pre-clerkship medical students in Canada receive little formal exposure to surgery during their undergraduate medical education. Hands-on workshops and simulations may be key surgical education experiences for students addressing this lack of exposure. However, little evidence exists demonstrating components providing the best hands-on experiences. The purpose of this study was to present a qualitative evaluation of a hands-on surgical experience intended for pre-clerkship medical students. 
Methods: We used the workshop component of the Surgical Education And Discovery (SEAD) Program at the University of Toronto to conduct our evaluation. Twnety program participants were asked to complete surveys eliciting workshop feedback. Data was compiled and prevailing themes were drawn from survey responses. 
Results: Nineteen surveys were completed (N=19). The overall impression of the SEAD Program was either very good or good (N=19). When asked about the favourite component of the SEAD Program, workshops was cited the word 16 times (N=19). The 3 most prevalent positive themes from the workshops were: the personnel present, the types of skills taught, and the hands-on experience provided. The 3 most prevalent negative themes were: inadequate time, unmet equipment/resource needs, and poor teaching/instruction. 
Conclusion: This preliminary analysis identified key aspects contributing to the quality of a surgical education experience. Such aspects may be of value to surgeon educators creating similar experiences for pre-clerkship medical students. Further study is needed with larger participant numbers, long-term data and CaRMS match data to ascertain the impact these quality themes have on pre-clerkship students choosing a surgical career.