Career Interest and Psychomotor Aptitude Among Medical Students

Phoebe B. Mitchell, Stuart Ostby, Kristin C. Mara, Sarah L. Cohen, Betty Chou, Isabel C. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The primary objective is to assess psychomotor aptitude of medical students interested in pursuing a procedural career. Secondary objectives include exploring the relationship between actual and perceived aptitude, and identifying predictors of superior aptitude. DESIGN: This is a cross-sectional, multisite study in which participants completed a paper survey, four visuospatial aptitude assessments, and a laparoscopic simulation modeled after the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) peg transfer test (used as a proxy for psychomotor aptitude). SETTING: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. PARTICIPANTS: All second-year medical students who had not yet initiated clinical rotations were eligible. Sixty-four students participated. RESULTS: Students interested in a procedural career exhibited superior psychomotor aptitude (faster FLS task completion time), and a majority of these students correctly identified themselves as having above-average aptitude compared with peers. However, over one quarter of all students, regardless of career interest, incorrectly over- or under-rated their psychomotor aptitude. Upon completing their preclinical curriculum, a minority of students felt prepared to participate or assist in their surgical clinical rotations. CONCLUSIONS: Prior to embarking on their clinical rotations, over one quarter of medical students lack awareness of their psychomotor aptitude and many do not feel prepared to participate in the next phase of their training. Early aptitude testing and introduction to laparoscopic training may assist in career selection, preparedness, and success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1526-1533
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Medical Knowledge
  • Patient Care
  • Practice?>-Based Learning and Improvement
  • Systems-Based Practice
  • aptitude
  • laparoscopic training
  • medical students
  • visuospatial skill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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