Factors influencing the intention to pursue surgery among female pre-medical students: A cross-sectional study in Pakistan

Document Type



Medical College Pakistan; Surgery


Background: While gender disparities in surgery are documented worldwide, it is unclear to what extent women consider surgery as a career before embarking on their medical school journey. This study aimed to report the percentage of pre-medical women in Pakistan who intend to eventually specialize in surgery and assess the factors motivating and deterring this decision.
Methods: An online survey was conducted among female pre-medical (high school) students across Pakistan. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to determine motivating and deterring factors associated with the intention to pursue surgery.
Results: Out of 1219 female high-school students, 764 (62.7) intended to join medical school. Among these 764, only 9.8% reported an exclusive intent to pursue surgery, while just 20.3% reported considering other specialties in addition to surgery. Significant motivators to pursue surgery exclusively were the intellectual satisfaction of pursuing surgery (adjusted odds ratio: 2.302), having opportunities to travel internationally for work (2.300) and use cutting-edge technology (2.203), interest in the specialty of surgery (2.031), the social prestige of becoming a surgeon (1.910), and considering one's personality well-suited to surgery (1.888). Major deterrents included the lack of interest in surgery (adjusted odds ratio: 3.812), surgical education and training being too difficult (2.440) and lengthy (1.404), and the risk of aggressive behavior from patients (2.239).
Conclusion: Even before entering medical school, most female pre-medical students have already decided against considering a future surgical career. Deterrents likely stem from women being pressured to conform to deep-seated societal expectations to dedicate their time and energy to domestic responsibilities.


Volume, issue, and pagination are not provided by the author/publisher

Publication (Name of Journal)

World journal of surgery