Study Sheds Light on Why Medical Students choose to be Surgeons | MedStar Health

Study Sheds Light on Why Medical Students Choose to Be Surgeons

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WASHINGTON, D.C., (November 30, 2016)—Data from a new, local prospective study on the impact of gross anatomy labs administered to first-year Georgetown University medical students showed the desire to work with their hands increased, enjoyment of working with instruments and tools increased, and likelihood of pursing a surgical career increased in 30 percent of the surveyed students who experienced gross anatomy lab.

“It’s fascinating to see the impact of certain courses on a student’s career choice and I think it serves a roadmap for choosing learning environments and curricula that will get students excited about surgery,” said Sonya Malekzadeh, MD, FACS, co-author of the study and professor of otolaryngology (head and neck surgery) at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

In the prospective study, 60 first-year Georgetown University medical students completed surveys before and after gross anatomy labs to determine the impact of the course and to identify influences in career decision making. Each survey was followed by a five-point Likert-type scale to survey participants' interests, specific personality traits, and experiences during the course of gross anatomy, as well as likelihood of pursuing a surgical career.

The study showed 31.7 percent of students were likely to pursue a surgical career after gross anatomy, a decreased interest in 16.7 percent and unchanged interest in 51.7 percent of students; more than 75 percent of students with a prior interest in surgery and 21 percent of those who previously felt neutral agreed that they were likely to pursue a career in surgery at the conclusion of the laboratory.

Dr. Malekzadeh is a 2010 graduate of the first class of MedStar Health's award-winning Teaching Scholars program, a partnership between MedStar Health Research Institute and MedStar Health's academic affairs division that enables clinicians to utilize research methodology that can be applied to education.


About MedStar Health Graduate Medical Education

Advancing health through medical education, research and innovation is core to MedStar Health’s vision and strategy. Serving as MedStar Health’s medical education and clinical partner, Georgetown University enhances our “advancing health” portfolio through collaborations in teaching, scholarship and research. Georgetown University medical students rotate through MedStar’s hospitals for their clinical education and training. In addition, approximately 25 percent of the university’s graduating class is matched into MedStar residencies and fellowships. Most of MedStar’s teaching faculty hold academic appointments at Georgetown University, realizing the meaningful collaborations in teaching, research and academic service. For more information, visit

About MedStar Health Research Institute

The MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. Visit us at

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit