Anesthesiology and the Graduating Medical Student: A National Survey

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Each year, many anesthesiology housestaff positions remain vacant or are filled by foreign medical graduates. While possibly reflecting an overabundance of such housestaff positions, this situation also suggests a lack of U.S. student interest in anesthesiology. To investigate this phenomenon, the authors conducted a survey of American medical school graduates of 1976. The results reveal that 65% of students receive minimal or no systematic exposure to anesthesiology or anesthesiologists. When such exposure occurs, it comes after many students have developed strong specialty preferences. Many students saw anesthesiology as limited in scope and unchallenging and indicated that they did not select anesthesiology because it entails insufficient primary patient care. Contrasts between those entering and not entering anesthesiology suggest, however, that certain variables which are subject to manipulation—such as amount, timing, and content of exposure to anesthesiology—could alter student attitudes and potentially generate increased student interest in the specialty.

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