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Selection of Neurosurgical Trainees

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2014

S.T. Myles
Affiliation:
Dept. of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary Medical School, Calgary, AB, Canada
S. McAleer
Affiliation:
Centre for Medical Education, University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland, UK
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Abstract

Background:

Medical students in Canada must make career choices by their final year of medical school. Selection of students for a career in neurosurgery has traditionally been based on marks, reference letters and personal interviews. Studies have shown that marks alone are not accurate predictors of success in medical practice; personal skills and attributes which can best be assessed by letters of reference and interviews may be more important. This study was an attempt to assess the importance of, and ability to teach, personal skills and attitudes necessary for successful completion of a neurosurgical training program.

Methods:

A questionnaire was sent to 185 active members of the Canadian Neurosurgical Society, asking them to give a numerical rating of the importance of 22 personal skills and attributes, and their ability to teach those skills and attributes. They were asked to list any additional skills or attributes considered important, and rate their ability to teach them.

Results:

Sixty-six (36%) questionnaires were returned. Honesty, motivation, willingness to learn, ability to problem solve, and ability to handle stress were the five most important characteristics identified. Neurosurgeons thought they could teach problem solving, willingness to consult informed sources, critical thinking, manual dexterity, and communication skills, but honesty, motivation, willingness to learn and ability to handle stress were difficult or impossible to teach.

Conclusions:

Honesty, motivation, willingness to learn, ability to problem solve and handle stress are important for success in a neurosurgical career. This information should be transmitted to medical students at “Career Day” venues. Structuring letters of reference and interviews to assess personal skills and attributes will be important, as those that can’t be taught should be present before the start of training.

Résumé:

RÉSUMÉ: Contexte:

Au Canada, les étudiants en médecine doivent faire des choix de carrière au moment de leur dernière année de médecine. La sélection des candidats à une carrière en neurochirurgie était basée traditionnellement sur les notes scolaires, les lettres de référence et les entrevues personnelles. Des études ont montré que les notes seules ne sont pas un bon prédicteur de succès en pratique médicale; les habiletés et les qualités personnelles qu’on peut mieux évaluer par des lettres de référence et des entrevues, pourraient être plus importantes. Cette étude se veut une tentative d’évaluation de l’importance des habiletés et attitudes personnelles nécessaires pour compléter avec succès un programme de résidence en neurochirurgie et de la possibilité de les enseigner.

Méthodes:

Un questionnaire a été envoyé à 185 membres actifs de la Société canadienne de neurochirurgie leur demandant d’attribuer une cote numérique à l’importance de 22 habiletés et qualités personnelles et d’évaluer leur capacité à les enseigner. On leur demandait d’énumérer des habiletés ou qualités additionnelles qu’ils considéraient comme importantes et d’évaluer leur capacité à les enseigner.

Résultats:

Soixante-six (36%) des questionnaires ont été retournés. L’honnêteté, la motivation, la volonté d’apprendre, la capacité à résoudre des problèmes et la capacité à gérer le stress étaient les cinq caractéristiques considérées comme les plus importantes. Les neurochirurgiens considéraient qu’ils pouvaient enseigner la résolution de problème, la propension à consulter, la pensée critique, la dextérité manuelle et les habiletés de communication, mais que l’honnêteté, la motivation, la volonté d’apprendre et la capacité à gérer le stress étaient difficiles sinon impossibles à enseigner.

Conclusions:

L’honnêteté, la motivation, la volonté d’apprendre, la capacité à résoudre des problèmes et à gérer le stress sont importantes pour le succès d’une carrière en neurochirurgie. Cette information devrait être transmise aux étudiants en médecine lors de journées carrière. Il s’avère important de structurer les lettres de référence et les entrevues afin d’évaluer les habiletés et les qualités personnelles, étant donné que celles qui ne peuvent être enseignées doivent être présentes chez le candidat avant de commencer la résidence.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Canadian Journal of Neurological 2003

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