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Promoting the Pipeline of Academic Surgeons in Cardiothoracic Surgery: A Call to Action
John A. Treffalls1, Lena E. Trager2, Edgar Aranda-Michel3, Cheryl K. Zogg4, Mary Moya-Mendez5, Omar Toubat6, Austin Hingtgen2, Jason J. Han7, Marisa Cevasco7.
1University of Texas Health San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA, 2University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, MN, USA, 3University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 4Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA, 5Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA, 6University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA, 7Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

OBJECTIVE: Research is critical for innovation in cardiothoracic (CT) surgery, yet our understanding of medical student motivation for scholarly activities is limited. We evaluated medical studentsí relationship with research as they progress towards applying for CT residency.
METHODS: The Thoracic Surgery Medical Student Association (TSMA), a nationwide society for medical students interested in CT surgery, distributed an anonymous online survey to its membership. The 53-item survey included information on demographics, career interests, and research experience. Likert scales evaluated perceptions regarding current and future research participation. Responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
RESULTS: 60 students completed the survey. 57% were male, 60% were in their third or fourth year, and 57% were interested in academic surgical careers. 52% published a first-author paper, while 40% presented at a national conference. Research engagement increased as students progressed from first year (40% publications, 20% conference attendance) to fourth year (94% publications, 75% attendance; P<0.05) Both changes were associated with mentorship availability and participation in student-specific research programs. Despite research interest, respondents expressed concern about continued participation in research throughout their careers, most notably a perceived negative work-life balance (73%) and an inability to find appropriate time (70%). 88% of students perceived pressure to do research when comparing themselves to their peers.
CONCLUSIONS: We revealed a strong research interest among medical students and identified barriers to long-term research success. Recognition and amelioration of perceived pressure to perform research and negative perceptions of academic surgery are needed to engage students interested in CT surgery careers.


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