Improving medical student recruitment to neurosurgery

Restricted access

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgery seeks to attract the best and brightest medical students; however, there is often a lack of early exposure to the field, among other possible barriers. The authors sought to identify successful practices that can be implemented to improve medical student recruitment to neurosurgery.

METHODS

United States neurosurgery residency program directors were surveyed to determine the number of medical student rotators and medical students matching into a neurosurgery residency from their programs between 2010 and 2016. Program directors were asked about the ways their respective institutions integrated medical students into departmental clinical and research activities.

RESULTS

Complete responses were received from 30/110 institutions. Fifty-two percent of the institutions had neurosurgery didactic lectures for 1st- and 2nd-year medical students (MS1/2), and 87% had didactics for MS3/4. Seventy-seven percent of departments had a neurosurgery interest group, which was the most common method used to integrate medical students into the department. Other forms of outreach included formal mentorship programs (53%), lecture series (57%), and neurosurgery anatomy labs (40%). Seventy-three percent of programs provided research opportunities to medical students, and 57% indicated that the schools had a formal research requirement. On average, 3 medical students did a rotation in each neurosurgery department and 1 matched into neurosurgery each year. However, there was substantial variability among programs. Over the 2010–2016 period, the responding institutions matched as many as 4% of the graduating class into neurosurgery per year, whereas others matched 0%–1%. Departments that matched a greater (≥ 1% per year) number of medical students into neurosurgery were significantly more likely to have a neurosurgery interest group and formal research requirements. A greater percentage of high-matching programs had neurosurgery mentorship programs, lecture series, and cadaver training opportunities compared to the other institutions.

CONCLUSIONS

In recent decades, the number of applicants to neurosurgery has decreased. A major deterrent may be the delayed exposure of medical students to neurosurgery. Institutions with early preclinical exposure, active neurosurgery interest groups, research opportunities, and strong mentorship recruit and match more students into neurosurgery. Implementing such initiatives on a national level may increase the number of highly qualified medical students pursuing neurosurgery.

ABBREVIATIONS AANS = American Association of Neurological Surgeons; NSIG = neurosurgery interest group.

Downloadable materials

  • Supplementary Figures 1 and 2 (PDF 778 KB)

Article Information

Correspondence Daniel Lubelski: Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD. dlubelski@jhmi.edu.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online August 9, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2019.5.JNS1987.

Disclosures Dr. Witham is a consultant for DePuy-Synthes Spine and has received support from Eli Lilly and Co. and the Gordon and Marilyn Macklin Foundation for non–study-related clinical or research effort. Dr. Huang has ownership in Longeviti.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

Headings

Figures

  • View in gallery

    Bar graph showing the percentage of neurosurgery residency programs with various medical student outreach methods: mentorship programs, lecture series by neurosurgeons, anatomy laboratories, specific neurosurgery curriculum for medical students, Student Interest Group in Neurology (SIGN), and NSIG.

  • View in gallery

    Bar graph showing the percentage of neurosurgery residency programs with the specific research opportunities. These include having any neurosurgery research opportunities for medical students, active recruiting of medical students, a formal research requirement as part of the medical student curriculum, Web-based/online opportunities to pair medical students with research mentors/projects, and summer research or shadowing opportunities.

TrendMD

Metrics

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1497 1497 987
Full Text Views 175 175 85
PDF Downloads 97 97 33
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0

PubMed

Google Scholar