Journal of Surgical Simulation 2020; 7: 73 - 79

Published: 24 November 2020


Original article

Enhancement of medical student perception of surgical specialization with peer-assisted laparoscopic simulation: a pilot study

Jordan J. Baechle, Alexander M. Lopez, Jyotsna Thota, Mitchell F. Bowers, Paula Marincola Smith and Regina S. Offodile
Corresponding author: Jordan J. Baechle, School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN, USA. Email:


Background: Although the pre-clinical years are pivotal in career path commitment for medical students, this phase of education is traditionally devoid of surgical exposure. Although peer-assisted learning and simulation are both validated methods of supplementing early exposure to medical specialties, their use in familiarizing students with modern surgical procedures remains minimal. We hypothesize that student-led laparoscopic simulation will result in significantly increased self-perception of surgical clerkship preparedness and confidence in pursuing surgical residency among pre-clinical medical students.

Methods: Laparoscopic simulation workshops were organized by student educators who underwent faculty-led leadership training in simulation education. Pre-clinical medical students were invited to participate in weekly 1-hour laparoscopic simulation events that progressed through a series of coordination exercises using box trainers over the course of 8 weeks. Participants completed pre- and post-simulation surveys concerning perceptions toward surgical clerkship and residency. The results of these questionnaires were analyzed using the Wilcoxon Mann-Whitney test.

Results: Among the 28 participants, 9 (32%) were first-year pre-clinical medical student and 19 (68%) were second-year medical students. Participants attended an average of 2.8 of the 8 sessions. On a 100-point scale, mean student perceptions of surgical clerkship preparedness and confidence pursuing surgical residency scored 44.8 and 50.3, respectively. Upon completion of the post-test, these mean preparedness and confidence scores were significantly increased to 58.6 and 66.6, respectively (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Peer-assisted laparoscopic simulation learning may be an effective means of enhancing pre-clinical student perceptions toward surgical fields in medical school curricula, however, longitudinal studies are needed to assess the impact on surgical clerkship proficiency and residency matriculation/completion.


student; simulation; surgery; laparoscopic; peer-assisted learning