Experiences of medical students innovation on practical surgical skills in medical education worldwide


  1. Katarina Mandic
  2. Ljiljana Lukic
  3. Eleonora Leopardi
  4. Ivana Di Salvo


10AA Surgery


International Federation of Medical Students' Associations, Netherlands
University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Croatia
Sapienza University of Rome, Italy


In most countries, surgical topics are largely present in medical schools curricula but they're covered only on a theoretical basis, developing knowledge on surgically-treated diseases and competences in management and decision-making.

Practical training is often, due to many different reasons, a neglected aspect of surgery, although all medical students, regardless of their career choices, will need both aspects, the theoretical and the practical.

Summary of Work

The International Federation of Medical Students' Associations (IFMSA) strongly advocates for the inclusion of well-structured practical training in medical schools' curricula, so that all future doctors can be equipped with basic surgical skills.

In order to set a strategy for efficient advocacy, medical students within IFMSA decided to gather information on surgical practical courses in medical schools. To do so, a review of the scientific literature available on the subject was organised. Also, students came together during the IFMSA General Assemblies and in online meetings to exchange experiences from different universities and find solutions.

Summary of Results

Results showed  that a large-scale analysis of the different programs has never been carried out, although several programs, either student-led or institution-led, have been described in the literature.

Several student-led initiatives have arisen, but these initiatives have often stayed mostly unknown to any overseeing medical education institution. Usually, surgery professors are involved in delivering the course, but the institution as a whole remains unaware that the course is taking place. Also, in some occasions, the institution is aware of the course but does not partake in it.

For this reason, the quality of such courses is largely variable, the curriculum is not standardised and the student:tutor ratio is often exceedingly high. On the contrary, in some instances, the student initiative is indeed of high quality, but lack of communication and support from the institution hinders its development and recognition.


There is a need for more scientific research and actions to reach census of such initiatives, as well as the better coordination and overseeing of the impact of students’ activities.

This is the reason why a study was created, aiming to explore the exposure of medical students worldwide to practical surgical skills teaching programs, either compulsory or optional, either student-led or institution-led, in medical curricula. With this study we hope to gain insight in satisfaction and usefulness of these programs for medical students, assess and compare different programs, identify good practices and create suggestions for further steps.

Preliminary results, from a survey conducted on a sample of 108 students from 46 different countries, showed:

  • ​students already recognize the need for more opportunities for practice, with 60% of students finding amount of time they have for practical surgical skills training inadequate (Figure 1)
  • 92% of students agree that well-structured practical surgical courses should be integrated in the medical school curriculum (Figure 2)
  • level of satisfaction with surgical skills training students experience in their medical schools, as well as the level of competency they develop from those trainings are variable (Figures 3 and 4)


Figure 1: Students' satisfaction with amount of time for surgical skills training


Figure 2: Opinion on integration of well-structured practical surgical skills courses in medical school curricula


Figure 3: Satisfaction with experienced surgical skills training in medical schools


Figure 4: Developed level of competency

Take-home Messages

A worldwide census of institution-led and student-led initiatives, combined with discussion and review of the literature, could provide a comprehensive picture of the students' opinion on practical surgical skills training and allow for effective advocacy at international, national and local level.

Summary of Work
Summary of Results
Take-home Messages
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