Neurosurgical rotations or clerkships in US medical schools

Clinical article

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, Baylor College of Medicine; and
  • | 2 Department of Neurosurgery, The University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
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Object

Medical student exposure to neurosurgery is limited. To improve the educational interactions between neurosurgeons and medical students as well as neurosurgical medical student rotations or clerkships (NSCs) we must first understand the current status.

Methods

Two questionnaires were sent, one to every neurosurgery course coordinator or director at each US neurosurgery residency program (99 questionnaires) and one to the associated parent medical school dean's office (91 questionnaires), to assess the current status of NSCs and the involvement of neurosurgeons at their respective institutions.

Results

We received responses from 86 (87%) of 99 neurosurgery course coordinators or directors and 64 (70%) of 91 medical school deans' offices. Most NSCs do not have didactic lectures (53 [62%] of 86 NSCs), provide their medical students with a syllabus or educational handouts (53 [62%] of 86), or have a recommended/required textbook (77 [90%] of 86). The most common method of evaluating students in NSCs is a subjective performance evaluation. Of 64 medical school deans, 38 (59%) felt that neurosurgery should not be a required rotation. Neurosurgical rotations or clerkships are primarily offered to students in their 4th year of medical school, which may be too late for appropriate timing of residency applications. Only 21 (33%) of 64 NSCs offer neurosurgery rotations to 3rd-year students.

Conclusions

There is significant room for improvement in the neurosurgeon-to–medical student interactions in both the NSCs and during the didactic years of medical school.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

AANS = American Association of Neurological Surgeons; ACGME = Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education; CNS = Congress of Neurological Surgeons; NSC = neurosurgery clerkship (medical student rotation).

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