Characteristics of graduating medical students interested in neurosurgery with intention to practice in underserved areas: Implications for residency programs

Umaru Barrie, Michelle Williams, Mytien Nguyen, Yves J. Kenfack, Hyacinth Mason, Ashar Ata, Salah G. Aoun, Julie G. Pilitsis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: It is of paramount importance that the United States (U.S.) physician and surgical workforce reflects its changing population demographics. The authors characterized factors contributing to graduating medical students’ decision to pursue a residency in Neurosurgery to assess opportunities for recruitment and retainment of graduates interested in working with underserved populations. Methods: Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Student Record System (SRS), and the AAMC Graduation Questionnaire (GQ) were collected on a national cohort of U.S. medical students from 2012 through 2017. Data including self-reported sex, race/ethnicity, age at matriculation, degree program, intention to practice in underserved area, total debt, scholarships, volunteer activities and medical electives was analyzed using chi-squared tests and multivariate logistic regression models. Results: The study included 48,096 graduating medical students surveyed by GQ and SRS, 607 (1.26%) of whom reported an intention to pursue Neurosurgery (Neurosurgery cohort). Compared to students pursuing other specialties, the Neurosurgery cohort had fewer students identify as female (18.95% vs. 48.18%, p < 0.001), and report an intention to work with underserved populations (11.37% vs. 26.37%, p < 0.001). In addition, Black/African-American students were significantly more like to indicate intention to pursue Neurosurgery compared to White students (aOR=1.51, 95% CI:1.01–2.24). Moreover, within the Neurosurgery cohort, Black/African-American (aOR=7.66, 95% CI:2.87–20.45), Hispanic (aOR=4.50, 95% CI:1.40–14.51) and female students (aOR=2.44, 95% CI:1.16–5.12) were more likely to report an intention to practice in underserved urban and rural areas, compared to their peers. Conclusions: Our study identified several key demographic and academic factors influencing intention to pursue a neurosurgical career, and work with underserved populations. Our data provides an opportunity for further discussions on the residency selection process and seeks to empower residency programs to diversify the neurosurgical workforce, tackle health disparities and improve patient care for the entire US population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107293
JournalClinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Medical student
  • Neurosurgery
  • Recruitment and Retention
  • Residency
  • Underserved Populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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