Has the Bachelor of Surgery Left Medical School?-A National Undergraduate Assessment

Matthew J Lee, Thomas M Drake, Tom A M Malik, Timothy O'Connor, Ryad Chebbout, Ahmed Daoub, Jonathan R L Wild
Journal of Surgical Education 2016, 73 (4): 655-9

INTRODUCTION: Nearly all trainee doctors would undertake a surgical placement in their clinical training; however, there is anecdotal evidence of variability in undergraduate surgical teaching across the UK. We set out to describe the provision of undergraduate surgery and report graduating students' opinions of aspects of this.

METHODS: We undertook a cross-sectional questionnaire of medical students graduating in 2014 from UK medical schools. An online electronic questionnaire was used to capture demographics, career intentions, and individual's undergraduate experience of surgery. A separate questionnaire was sent to medical schools to assess time devoted to surgical placements and how surgical sciences were taught and assessed.

RESULTS: From 483 responses covering 31 UK medical schools, there were 328 completed student questionnaires. A third of respondents felt that teaching of surgical sciences was inadequate. Medical schools reported time allocated to surgical specialties ranging from 4 to 21 weeks (median 13 weeks). Among all, 1 medical school offered a basic surgical skills course and 1 medical school specifically assessed surgical-related skills. Overall, 65% of medical students felt prepared for a surgical foundation placement and 88% felt prepared for a medical foundation placement. In total, 78% felt ready to participate in an acute medicine on-call and 48% felt ready for emergency surgery on-call. There was a positive association between time dedicated to undergraduate surgery and reported preparedness for a foundation surgical job.

CONCLUSIONS: UK medical students reported uniformly low rates of satisfaction with surgical science teaching. Students studying at medical schools with more time in the curriculum dedicated to surgery reported higher levels of preparedness for surgical foundation jobs. There were differences in the rates of perceived preparedness for surgical posts and for emergency surgery. There is a clear need to review undergraduate surgical provision to ensure that students are equipped for safe practice in junior surgical foundation jobs.

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