Impact of medical school experiences on the career choice of neurosurgery: A cross- sectional study from Pakistan

Document Type



Neurosurgery; Medical College Pakistan


Background: Pakistan grapples with the issue of an inadequate neurosurgery workforce but the reasons for such a disparity remain uncertain. Previous studies have highlighted how various factors including medical school experiences have an impact on career choice, but no study has delved into the impact of medical school exposure among Pakistani medical students, especially for the field of neurosurgery. This study aims to evaluate the impact of neurosurgery exposure, mentorship, and interest groups on medical students' decision to pursue neurosurgery.
Methods: A national cross-sectional survey was conducted in Pakistan, collecting data from medical students, interns, and medical officers over a one-month period. Ethical approval was obtained from the Ethical Review Committee at Aga Khan University, Pakistan. The data was analyzed using SPSS version 26.
Results: Out of 2618 participants, 38.0% were male and 62.0% were female, with an average age of 21.82 years (± 2.65). Among them, only 358 (13.6%) were interested in pursuing neurosurgery as a career, while the remaining 2,260 (86.3%) were not. More females (58.9%) than males (41.1%) expressed interest in pursuing neurosurgery as their intended career. Most medical students interested in pursuing neurosurgery were in the early years of their medical school (1st Year: 19.6%, 2nd Year: 26.0%, 3rd Year: 20.9%). In our study, students from public sector institutions (52.2%) showed more interest in neurosurgery as a career choice compared to those from private sector institutions (44.1%). The main deterrents for choosing neurosurgery were intense training (42.2%), work-life balance (39.9%), limited residency slots (56.7%), medical knowledge (34.1%), and surgical skills (36.6%).
Conclusion: This study highlights the need for increased student engagement to inculcate the decision to pursue neurosurgery among medical students in Pakistan. A significant gap is highlighted, with the majority of interested students in early years. Public sector students show higher interest than their private sector counterparts. However, barriers like intense training, limited residency slots, and work-life balance concerns influence career choice. Targeted interventions like mentorship programs are crucial for fostering future neurosurgeons and advancing patient care and research. By addressing the identified disparities in experiences and promoting a supportive educational environment, it is possible to cultivate a future generation of skilled and dedicated neurosurgeons who can contribute to advancements in patient care and research in the field.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Medical Education