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2020 | 92(2) | 12-21
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Why do Polish medical students resign from pursuing surgical careers? A survey study

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Background: In recent years, the interest of Polish medical students in choosing a career in surgical subspecialties has been declining. In the face of a growing demand for surgical procedures it seems essential to find the reasons responsible for that situation.
Aim: The aim of the study was to evaluate the level of interest in pursuing surgical careers among Polish medical students and to identify factors that may influence their decision. Material and methods: An anonymous questionnaire was distributed electronically among students from 11 different Polish medical universities.
Results: We surveyed 595 individuals (190 male and 405 female). 48% of them declared interest in choosing surgical subspecialty as a career. The percentage of students who considered it before medical school was higher and reached almost 65%. Slight or no interest in surgery as a field of study (OR = 20.6), self-assessment of surgical predispositions as unsatisfactory (OR = 14.3), feeling unable to enter and accomplish surgical specialty (OR = 5.2), being discouraged by the partner (OR = 3.4), negative past experience with the surgical environment (OR = 3.2), not having a surgeon as a mentor (OR = 2.6), no authorship of journal articles or congress presentations (OR = 1.9) and first contact with the operating theatre >2nd year of study (OR = 1.9) were found to be the independent risk factors of abandoning a surgical career.
Conclusions: Most medical students are interested in pursuing a surgical specialty at some time during their education. However, being discouraged by lifestyle issues, surgical training quality or experiencing gender discrimination, they often resign from such a career path.
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