Background: Less than 80% of general surgery (GS) residency positions are filled by graduates from allopathic, U.S. medical schools. The aim of this study was to gauge students' interest in pursuing GS throughout their medical school matriculation and explore students’ changing perceptions of the specialty. Methods: Students at two medical schools were surveyed annually for 4 years. Survey responses regarding interest were compared to actual NRMP match results. Results: Interest in a GS career was highest at the outset of medical school and declined steadily during the program, which was similar at both schools, including a positive effect on interest from the surgical clerkship. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that experiences during medical school impact students' perceptions of GS; specifically, lifestyle, work environment, and the length of training discouraged pursuit of GS. Perception of a GS's lifestyle and the educational environment are both highly modifiable factors that could increase interest in general surgery amongst graduates.
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