DOI: 10.1093/bjs/znad258.589 ISSN:

525 Undergraduate Barriers to Surgical Training

C Leiberman, J Shaw
  • Surgery



To identify potential barriers in undergraduate medical students to surgical training.


One hundred and one third-year medical students, with no prior surgical experience, were asked what they consider to be a potential barrier to surgical training.


Seventy-eight students responded with a total of eighty-eight reasons given (n = 88). Of these, 17 (19%) students cited lack of exposure or experience, 10 (11%) stated manual dexterity, and 3 (3%) anatomical knowledge as potential barriers. Various reasons were given regarding surgical training itself. A perceived poor work-life balance was given by 14 students (16%), 13 (15%) stated the competitive aspect of training, and 6 (7%) cited the long duration of training. With regards to surgery as a specialty, 9 (10%) students said the long hours, 6 (7%) the perceived lack of patient contact, 6 (7%) observed the male dominance of the specialty and lack of female surgeons, and 4 (5%) said the rumoured negative work environment.


This survey identifies clear barriers to surgical training with three main themes being identified: experience of the specialty, surgical knowledge and skills, and aspects of the training and specialty. More effort should be given to expose students earlier to the discipline, improving undergraduate surgical skills teaching, as well as providing clear descriptions of what the training process entails. It would be prudent to resurvey the students in their final year, after having had sufficient exposure.

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