Evaluating the impact of a global surgery conference on student perceptions: a survey study

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Abstract

Background:

Global surgery is an under-represented component of formal medical education. Consequently, many students and trainees have turned to complementary learning opportunities, like academic conferences, to gain experience in the field. The impact of such conferences on student attitudes, however, has not yet been described. Our objective is thus to evaluate the impact of a student-oriented global surgery conference on participants’ perceptions of global surgery.

Methods:

A survey study was performed. Preconference and postconference surveys were administered to participants of a 1-day, student-oriented global surgery conference in Boston, MA.

Results:

Of conference participants, 116 completed a preconference survey, and 70 completed a postconference survey. Of the latter, 58 participants completed a postconference survey that could be matched to their preconference survey results. The majority of conference participants had no or limited (<1 y) prior experience in global health or global surgery (26% and 58%, respectively). After participation in the conference, respondents indicated a significantly greater confidence in their understanding of global surgery as a career (P<0.00001). There were no significant changes in participants’ beliefs about or interest in global surgery subfields after correcting for multiple hypothesis testing.

Conclusions:

Student-oriented global surgery conferences can increase participant confidence in their understanding of global surgery as a career. Further pedagogical inquiry is needed to build a more integrated educational experience for students and trainees interested in gaining exposure to the field.

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