Utility of Virtual Spine Neurosurgery Education for Medical Students

Nathan A. Shlobin*, Ryan E. Radwanski, Michael W. Kortz, Jonathan J. Rasouli, Wende N. Gibbs, Khoi D. Than, Ali A. Baaj, John H. Shin, Nader S. Dahdaleh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Distance learning has become increasingly important to expand access to neurosurgical spine education. However, emerging online spine education initiatives have largely focused on residents, fellows, and surgeons in practice. We aimed to assess the utility of online neurosurgical spine education for medical students regarding career interests, knowledge, and technical skills. Methods: A survey assessing the demographics and effects of virtual spine education programming on the interests, knowledge, and technical skills was sent to attendees of several virtual spine lectures. The ratings were quantified using 7-point Likert scales. Results: A total of 36 responses were obtained, of which 15 (41.7%) were from first- or second-year medical students and 18 (50.0%) were from international students. Most respondents were interested in neurosurgery (n = 30; 80.3%), with smaller numbers interested in radiology (n = 3; 8.3%) and orthopedic surgery (n = 2; 5.6%). The rating of utility ranged from 5.69 ± 1.14 to 6.50 ± 0.81 for career, 5.83 ± 0.94 to 6.14 ± 0.80 for knowledge, and 5.22 ± 1.31 to 5.83 ± 1.06 for clinical skills. Of the 36 respondents, 26 (72.2%) preferred virtual neurosurgical spine education via intermixed lectures and interactive sessions. The most common themes regarding the utility of virtual spine education were radiology by 18 (50.0%), anatomy by 12 (33.3%), and case-based teaching by 8 (22.2%) respondents. Conclusions: Virtual distance learning for neurosurgical spine education is beneficial for students by enabling career exploration and learning content and clinical skills. Although the overall benefit was lowest for clinical skills, virtual programming could serve as an adjunct to traditional in-person exposure. Distance learning could also provide an avenue to reduce disparities in medical student neurosurgical spine education locally and globally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-186
Number of pages8
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Neurosurgery education
  • Online medical student education
  • Spine surgery
  • Virtual medical student education
  • Virtual neurosurgery training camp
  • Webinar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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