Improving Medical Student Recruitment into Plastic Surgery: A Survey of Orphaned Medical Students

Daniel C. Sasson, Nikhil D. Shah, Selcen S. Yuksel, Sarah A. Applebaum, Arun K. Gosain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: This study was undertaken to measure the concerns of students whose medical schools do not have a plastic surgery training program to help educators better understand their perspectives. This is essential to improve plastic surgery education for almost 50% of students in the United States at institutions without a residency program. DESIGN: An anonymous survey was distributed to the clerkship directors of the applicable medical schools. They were then asked to forward this survey to their student body. The survey was divided as follows: demographics; exposure to plastic surgery; mentorship; suggestions for improvement; perceived impact on matching. RESULTS: We received 265 responses from 16 unique institutions. About 38% consider themselves underrepresented in medicine. The most common initial professional exposure to plastic surgery was shadowing (20%). About 10% reported exposure to plastic surgery in their school curriculum. About 51% reported having no professional exposure to plastic surgery. About 89% did not identify a mentor. All students applying to away rotations reported difficulties facilitating these sub-internships. About 64% felt extremely concerned about matching. CONCLUSIONS: Students from schools without plastic surgery training programs are at a disadvantage. The academic community needs to support these students to achieve a more diverse field. All students should be given an introduction to plastic surgery as part of their curriculum, and they should be encouraged to explore a career in plastic surgery as a realistic option. If 1 perceives themselves as non-competitive due to institutional shortcomings, this will translate into a non-competitive applicant and discourage our specialty's serious pursuit by almost half the country's medical students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • medical student education
  • orphaned medical students
  • plastic surgery
  • residency program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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