Research Article| Volume 220, ISSUE 2, P271-273, August 2020

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What is global surgery? Identifying misconceptions among health professionals

Published:November 11, 2019DOI:


      • Most health professionals do not know the meaning of global surgery.
      • Younger professionals are more likely to provide an accurate description of global surgery.
      • Pathways to become an academic global surgeon are not well understood by healthcare workers.
      • Further research on how to become a successful academic global surgeon is needed.



      Global surgery has emerged as a new field within academic surgery. Despite attempts to provide a common definition, it is unclear whether health professionals understand what is meant by the term “global surgery.” This study aims to characterize current understanding of global surgery among healthcare workers.


      One hundred medical students, residents, physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals were interviewed on their perceptions of global surgery using a six-question qualitative survey. Responses were coded and analyzed for common themes.


      Sixty-one percent of participants did not know the meaning of global surgery. Those under age 40 were more likely to relay an accurate definition. Of participants with knowledge of global surgery, 44% had previous exposure to global health and 85% expressed interest in global health or surgery.


      Although often used in academic surgical settings, the term “global surgery” is not well-understood among health professionals. There is no clear consensus on what it means to be a global surgeon or what constitutes a successful career in global surgery.


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