Residency application rates to general surgery remain low. The purpose of this study is to describe the educational value of a curriculum designed to increase preclinical medical student interest in surgical careers to better understand the process by which medical students decide to pursue a career in surgery.We used qualitative methodology to describe the educational value of a technical and nontechnical skills curriculum offered to preclinical medical students at our institution. We conducted semistructured interviews of students and instructors who completed the curriculum in 2016. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and inductively coded. The data were analyzed for emergent themes.A total of eight students and five instructors were interviewed. After analysis of 13 transcripts, four themes emerged: (1) The course provides a safe environment for learning, (2) acquisition and synthesis of basic technical skills increases preclinical student comfort in the operating room, (3) developing relationships with surgeons creates opportunities for extracurricular learning and scholarship, and (4) operative experiences can inspire students to explore a future career in surgery.These factors can help inform the design of future interventions to increase student interest, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of students who apply to surgical residency programs.
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