The impact of medical student interest in surgery on clerkship performance and career choice

Al Faraaz Kassam, Alexander R. Cortez, Leah K. Winer, Joshua W. Kuethe, Krishna P. Athota, R. Cutler Quillin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Interest in surgery has declined for two decades. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of one's interest in surgery on career choice. Methods: Students who completed the surgical clerkship (2016–2017) were invited to complete surveys assessing rotation experience, learning style, burnout, and grit. Students were grouped according to interest or no interest in surgery after the clerkship. Results: Surveys were completed by 62 students of whom 51.6% reported an interest in surgery. No minority students expressed interest compared with Caucasian (51.1%) and Asian (71.4%) students (p = 0.02). Disinterested students had higher emotional exhaustion (EE, 20 vs 25, p = 0.03). There was no difference in clerkship grade between groups (86.3% vs 85.3%, p = 0.56). Students who matched into surgery had lower EE and higher grit. Conclusions: Interest in surgery was not associated with improved clerkship performance. Disinterested students had higher EE, suggesting interest may play a role in adapting to clerkship challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Burnout
  • Grit
  • Learning styles
  • Medical students
  • Surgical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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