Comparison of the Perspectives of Medical Students and Residents on the Surgery Learning Environment

Sarah Jung, Jacob Greenberg, Ann P. O'Rourke, Rebecca M. Minter, Eugene Foley, Corrine I. Voils

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The learning environment plays a critical role in learners' satisfaction and outcomes. However, we often lack insight into learners' perceptions and assessments of these environments. It can be difficult to discern learners' expectations, making their input critical. When medical students and surgery residents are asked to evaluate their teachers, what do they focus on? Materials and methods: Open-ended comments from medical students' evaluations of residents and attending surgeons and from residents' evaluations of attendings during the 2016-2017 academic year were analyzed. Content analysis was used, and codes derived from the data. A matrix of theme by learner role was created to distinguish differences between medical student and resident learners. Subthemes were grouped based on similarity into high-order themes. Results: Two overarching themes were Creating a positive environment for learning by modeling professional behaviors and Intentionally engaging learners in training and educational opportunities. Medical students and residents made similar comments for the subthemes of appropriate demeanor, tone and dialog, respect, effective direct instruction, feedback, debriefing, giving appropriate levels of autonomy, and their expectations as team members on a service. Differences existed in the subthemes of punctuality, using evidence, clinical knowledge, efficiency, direct interactions with patients, learning outcomes, and career decisions. Conclusions: Faculty development efforts should target professional communication, execution of teaching skills, and relationships among surgeons, other providers, and patients. Attendings should make efforts to discuss their approach to clinical decision making and patient interactions and help residents and medical students voice their opinions and questions through trusting adult learner-teacher relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-194
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Learning environment
  • Medical students
  • Professional development
  • Residents
  • Teaching evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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