BackgroundNational medical student surveys amidst the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-driven subinternship cancellations have demonstrated the need for supplemental, standardized subspecialty medical education, mentorship, and career planning nationally. We have presented the first live, cross-institutional virtual medical student subspecialty training camp to deliver standardized neurosurgical educational content to medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its results on medical student anxiety and perceptions of neurosurgery.
MethodsThe online training camp used a video conferencing platform that was open to all medical students. A post-training camp survey was administered.
ResultsA total of 305 medical students registered for the event from 107 unique U.S. medical schools. Of the 305 medical students, 108 reported intending to apply to neurosurgery residency in 2021. The top medical student objectives for the training camp were program networking and mentorship. Of the 305 participants, 121 (39.7%) completed the post-training survey. Of the respondents, 65.0% reported improved neurosurgical knowledge, 79.8% reported decreased anxiety about subinternships and interviews, 82.5% reported increased enthusiasm about neurosurgery, and 100% desired a future annual virtual training camp because of the increased accessibility and decreased cost. This was especially important for students at institutions without home subspecialty programs and those with financial burdens.
ConclusionsCOVID-19-driven innovations in medical education have accelerated changes that may have long been necessary. This virtual structure improved resource usage and scalability compared with in-person training, maintained social distancing, and democratized access to standardized, specialized content not often available through traditional medical curricula. Even as a supplement to in-person events, the virtual training camp model could be implemented by national medical societies, which might significantly increase medical students' preparedness for, and education in, neurosurgery and other subspecialties.