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Comment & Response
July 29, 2020

Training of Male and Female Surgical Residents

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Surg. 2020;155(10):998. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2020.2430

To the Editor The recent Viewpoint by Babchenko and Gast1 raised an overall dissenting perspective among female residents at our general surgical training program. Within education, there is an entire body of literature devoted to expectation-based achievement and how the expectations of teachers can mediate a learner’s beliefs about their own abilities as well as their eventual accomplishments.2,3 Survey-based studies have demonstrated that the viewpoints of surgeons training residents can greatly affect the confidence of trainees, particularly female trainees.4 The concept that learners rise to the expectations of their instructors, even if those expectations are low, is a powerful one. If we accept the position of the authors, we present female surgical residents with the idea that they are merely porcelain dolls with scalpels: inherently lacking in confidence, in need of special ego curation and alternate training tracks in which to develop the conviction and poise needed to practice surgery. In such an environment, female residents will come to believe that about themselves regardless of whether it is true. In the sense of the ego, fragility is often a learned concept rather than an inherited condition.

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