Evaluation of a simulation-based mini-elective on medical student interest in plastic surgery
Eva Roy, BS, Erin E. Anstadt, MD, Joseph E. Losee, MD, Vu T. Nguyen, MD, Jesse A. Goldstein, MD.
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Plastic Surgery, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Background: Integrated plastic surgery training programs are an increasingly popular path to train plastic surgeons. However, exposure to plastic surgery in pre-clinical years of medical school is currently very limited. It is vital to expose medical students early to the diverse field of plastic surgery to generate interest and prepare applicants for a career in plastic surgery.
Methods: A plastic surgery mini-elective was developed for pre-clinical medical students consisting of five three-hour sessions, with each week focusing on different topics including craniofacial, cleft lip and palate, microsurgery, breast, hand, aesthetics, research, and education. Sessions consisted of a lecture(s) followed by a hands-on component including a suturing session, flap design, facial drawings, hand examination, or resident panel. Sessions were taught by plastic surgery faculty and residents. A pre-course and post-course survey was administered to identify interest in, awareness of, and barriers to the field of plastic surgery.
Results: 25 students completed the pre-course survey, while 22 completed the post-course survey. Majority of participants were female and first year medical students. Exposure to the field had been through television/films, social media, and friends and family. Awareness of the independent and integrated path increased from 80% and 72% respectively to 100% post-course (p <0.05). There was a 34% increase in plastic surgery as the top residency to which students would most likely apply (p <0.05). Following the course, 77% strongly agreed they felt more comfortable in seeking out a plastic surgery mentor, and 86% plan to get involved with research. Students self-rated ability to perform a laceration repair, knot tying, craniofacial exam, evaluate a hand x ray, assess wound reconstruction (p <0.05), identify breast reconstruction options (p <0.05), and initiate and complete a hypothesis driven research project improved. Post-course, 82% strongly agreed that the mini-elective increased knowledge of plastic surgery. 82% and 91% strongly agreed that residents and attendings respectively engaged with students improved mini elective experience.
Conclusions: A plastic surgery mini-elective is a simple curriculum that can be adapted by other institutions and a concept that can be applied to other specialties. It is a positive way to increase interest and awareness of the field of plastic surgery among pre-clinical medical students. The mini-elective can provide access to residents and faculty for mentorship and research opportunities. This curriculum can help prepare medical students for the Match process and career in plastic surgery.
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