It is estimated that over 10% of the global burden of disease can be treated with surgery, most of which is located in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), underpinning the importance of the topic of global surgery (GS). The multidisciplinary principles of GS are increasingly recognised as being key to modern practice and as such, must be fostered at early stages of medical training. However, it is unclear whether medical students are being exposed to GS. This study aimed to assess the importance of GS and its presence in medical curricula.
A novel, 22-item online questionnaire was developed and disseminated to medical students and faculty members using social media. Data collection was conducted by a collaboration of medical students, who acted as regional leads at their institutions.
795 medical students and 141 faculty members representing 38/42 of UK medical schools (90.4%) completed the questionnaire. Only 84 students (10.6%) were previously exposed to GS. Most students (66.3%) and faculty (60.6%) agreed that GS should be an integral part of the curriculum. Only 20 students (2.5%) were or familiar with what a career in GS means.
Approximately 2/3 of students and faculty agree that global surgery should be an integral part of the mandatory curriculum. Findings of this study should underpin further incorporation of GS into curricula, as high-income countries can decisively contribute to achieving the global surgery 2030 targets, by training a new generation of clinicians who are ready for the challenges of the 21st century.