Medical College of Wisconsin
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Medical students and mattering on the surgery clerkship rotation. Am J Surg 2023 Feb;225(2):287-292



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85139279628 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)


BACKGROUND: Mattering is a psychosocial construct that describes an individual's perception that they make a difference in the lives of others and that they are significant in the world. The purpose of this study was to explore the current perception of behaviors that impact mattering among third year medical students on their surgery clerkship with the goal of improving the clerkship experience.

METHODS: A qualitative interview study was conducted during the 2019-2020 academic year. Medical students who had completed their surgery clerkship at a single institution volunteered to participate. Qualitative thematic analysis of students' comments during interviews were categorized to the three primary domains of mattering: awareness, importance, and reliance.

RESULTS: Six medical student interviews were conducted and responses were coded for the three primary domains of mattering. Eight subthemes emerged highlighting positive observations that may influence student mattering on the surgery clerkship. Awareness behaviors included acknowledging the student's presence, maintaining eye contact, educators offering students their undivided attention, and getting to know the students as individuals. Importance behaviors included taking time to teach, setting expectations early, and providing timely feedback. Reliance behaviors involve developing trust to match autonomy with experience and depending on students to provide unique information about patient care to the team.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings can help educators recognize the words, actions, and behaviors that make medical students feel they matter on their surgery clerkship. Interventions should continue focus on how to increase the sense of awareness, importance, and reliance for both the students and faculty.

Author List

Higgins RM, Marcdante K, Kaljo K, Strong E, Patten C


Rana Higgins MD Associate Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Kristina Kaljo PhD Associate Professor in the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Caitlin R. Patten MD, FACS Assistant Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Clinical Clerkship
Education, Medical, Undergraduate
General Surgery
Qualitative Research
Students, Medical