Assessment of Female Medical Students' Interest in Careers in Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Although over half of medical students are females, women comprise only 21% of cardiothoracic (CT) surgery residency applicants and 5% of the CT workforce. We sought to gain insight into female medical students' perceptions of CT surgery and identify targets to increase interest.


A 33-question survey queried career selection factors, perceptions of CT surgery, and ways to increase interest in the field. Responses were stratified by sex and preclinical versus clinical years.


Women at 13 US medical schools were compared to men at a Midwest medical school.


Surveys were distributed to approximately 4400 women and were completed by 372 (8.5%) women. Comparison surveys were distributed to approximately 170 preclinical men and were completed by 98 (57.6%) men.


Preclinical woman had broad interests, whereas clinical women were more interested in primary care (p = 0.0124). Intellectual interest and lifestyle were important in specialty selection for men and women (91% versus 90%; 78% versus 86%). Although preclinical men valued perceived prestige and salary significantly more than preclinical women (39% versus 20%, p = 0.0014; 64% versus 48%, p = 0.0173), preclinical women valued caring for specific ethnicities and addressing health disparities significantly more than preclinical men (26% versus 15%, p = 0.0173; 53% versus 33%, p = 0.0019). Making family plans was cited by 83% of women as difficult if they choose to become a CT surgeon. Women thought that attaining their career interests and life goals (76%) or access to female CT surgery mentors (63%) would make the field more appealing. Over 70% of preclinical women were interested in shadowing a CT surgeon. Of these women, 12% attempted to shadow.


Although baseline interest in CT surgery is low among women, there are many targets for increasing interest especially during preclinical years. Residency programs have the opportunity to entice women to the field by addressing their priorities of lifestyle, family planning, and addressing health disparities.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Foote, DC; Meza, JM; Sood, V; Reddy, RM

Published Date

  • September 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 74 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 811 - 819

PubMed ID

  • 28363674

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1878-7452

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1931-7204

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jsurg.2017.02.013


  • eng