Medical student preparation for the operating room

Kerry A. Swanson, Jessica C. Heard, Zhamak Khorgami, C. Anthony Howard, Baddr A. Shakhsheer, Geoffrey S. Chow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study examines student perceptions of preparedness for the operating room (OR), resources used, and time spent in preparation. Methods: Third-year medical and second-year physician assistant students across two campuses at a single academic institution were surveyed to assess perceptions of preparedness, time spent in preparation, resources used, and perceived benefits of preparation. Results: 95 responses (response rate 49%) were received. Students reported being most prepared to discuss operative indications and contraindications (73%), anatomy (86%), and complications (70%), but few felt prepared to discuss operative steps (31%). Students spent a mean of 28 min preparing per case, citing UpToDate and online videos as the most used resources (74%; 73%). On secondary analysis, only the use of an anatomic atlas was weakly correlated with improved preparedness to discuss relevant anatomy (p = 0.005); time spent, number of resources or other specific resources were not associated with increased preparedness. Conclusion: Students felt prepared for the OR, though there is room for improvement and a need for student-oriented preparatory materials. Understanding the deficits in preparation, preference for technology-based resources, and time constraints of current students can be used to inform optimisation for medical student education and resources to prepare for operating room cases.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Clinical education
  • Medical student
  • Operating room
  • Preparedness
  • Surgery clerkship
  • Undergraduate medical education


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