Background: It is predicted that the current shortfall of neurologists will continue to grow beyond current training rates. It is well documented that medical students often possess stigmatizing beliefs towards neuroscience-based careers. Preclinical medical education is where many medical students lay the foundation for specialty interests, and at some medical schools it may be their only direct exposure to neurology. Providing preclinical students with exposure to the unique aspects of clinical neuroscience such as procedures is a possible avenue for increasing student interest. We sought to assess the influence of a procedure workshop on student specialty interest.
Methods: We organized a hands-on procedure workshop for preclinical medical students to learn exam skills and procedures used by adult/pediatric neurologists, neurosurgeons, and psychiatrists. Twelve different stations were run by faculty, trainees, and technicians. Attendance was optional, and students were free to move between stations according to their time and interests. Most stations involved some brief education and time for students to practice or take part in the procedure. Attendees completed a survey on their interest in the relevant specialties before and after the workshop, and the helpfulness of each station in understanding the procedure. Statistical analyses were performed on the survey responses to determine change in specialty interest resulting from the workshop.
Results: 111 students attended the workshop, and 104 (94%) filled out the post-survey. Most were from the second-year medical student class. Approximately 41% of the second-year class attended. There was an increase in student interest in the clinical neurosciences by Fisher’s exact test (p<0.0001). 33 attendees (32%) reported an increased interest in the specialties from the workshop. Interestingly, 82% (18/22) of the students who reported previously having no interest in the specialties had an increased interest as a result of the workshop.
Discussion: A hands-on procedure workshop improved medical student interest in the clinical neurosciences. Although its impact on future specialty choice is unclear, enjoyable preclinical experiences such as a procedure workshop may be a useful addition to medical school curricula to foster interest in neurology and the clinical neurosciences.