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Letters to the Editor

Medical Students in the Operating Room: Helpful, Not a Hindrance

Soualhi, Ahmed; Kraria, Loubna; Munajjed, Osama

Author Information
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003599
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To the Editor:

We thank Barnum and colleagues1 for their study highlighting the potential of using medical students in the operating room to reduce infection rates from indwelling catheter placement. As students in the final year of our medical school journey, we appreciate the acknowledgment of medical students’ utility in the surgical setting.

In our experience, we have encountered a number of doctors and surgeons who have seen our involvement in the health care team as a hindrance. Instead, the medical student should be seen as a valuable addition and an asset to the health care team, and more should be done to get students involved in clinical skills. In addition to furthering our medical education and improving our clinical skills, we believe that being included on the surgical team adds value to the clerkship rotation and increases interest in choosing surgery as a career.2

The process of learning during a clerkship rotation can bring about a positive contribution to the team. One study showed that the quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation was improved in cardiac arrest scenarios where medical students were involved (with supervision).3 There have also been cases where medical students have improved patient safety, including one case involving sterile technique in the operating room and another involving infection exposure in the emergency department.4

We believe that medical students are an asset in any health care setting. We urge health care professionals who might think medical students are a hindrance to their practice to reconsider the value we can bring to the health care team.

Ahmed Soualhi
Fifth-year medical student, King’s College London School of Medical Education, Hodgkin Building, London, United Kingdom; [email protected]; ORCID:
Loubna Kraria
Fifth-year medical student, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Scotland.
Osama Munajjed
Fifth-year medical student, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Scotland.


1. Barnum T, Tatebe LC, Halverson AL, Helenowski IB, Yang AD, Odell DD. Outcomes associated with insertion of indwelling urinary catheters by medical students in the operating room following implementation of a simulation-based curriculum. Acad Med. 2020;95:435–441.
2. Shelton J, Obregon M, Luo J, Feldman-Schultz O, MacDowell M. Factors influencing a medical student’s decision to pursue surgery as a career. World J Surg. 2019;43:2986–2993.
3. Zhou XL, Duan XW, Zhao Y, et al. Medical students do not adversely affect the quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation for ED patients. Am J Emerg Med. 2014;32:306–310.
4. Seiden SC, Galvan C, Lamm R. Role of medical students in preventing patient harm and enhancing patient safety. Qual Saf Health Care. 2006;15:272–276.
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