Do future general surgery residents have adequate exposure to endocrine surgery during medical school?

Academic Article


  • During their general surgical rotations, medical students should ideally have exposure to a wide breadth of surgical procedures, especially if they are interested in pursuing surgical careers. To determine their exposure to endocrine surgery during medical school, we surveyed students from more than 20 medical schools who interviewed for general surgery residency positions at our institution over a 2-year period. Questions focused on the total number of index surgical procedures observed during all of their medical school education. Of 211 surveys sent, 146 were returned (66%). The mean age of the students was 26.0 ± 0.3 years, and 21% were women. The average times spent on general surgery and surgery subspecialty rotations during medical school were 11.1 ± 0.6 weeks and 7.6 ± 0.4 weeks, respectively. The mean number of thyroidectomies (2.8 ± 0.3), parathyroidectomies (1.9 ± 0.3), and adrenalectomies (0.5 ± 0.1) observed by the medical students were significantly lower than operations such as mastectomies (9.4 ± 0.3), coronary bypass surgeries (8.7 ± 1.4), and laparoscopic cholecystectomies (10.0 ± 0.7). Furthermore, of these 146 future surgical residents, 34% failed to observe a single thyroid resection, 42% did not see a parathyroidectomy, and 65% failed to see an adrenalectomy. In conclusion, future general surgery residents seem to observe a wide variety of surgical cases, but most have little or no exposure to endocrine surgery. This paucity of exposure may have significant educational and career ramifications.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Chen H; Hardacre JM; Martin C; Udelsman R; Lillemoe KD
  • Start Page

  • 17
  • End Page

  • 21
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 1