We have addressed the importance of role models in previous posts (here and here). A study by Ravindra and Fitzgerald points once again at the importance of role models for becoming a surgeon. But what makes a good role model in surgery? The authors asked newly qualified graduates from a UK medical school just that and grouped the free text answers by theme.
Overall, the most important qualities mentioned by participants were being a good teacher, showing enthusiasm, being student-focused and being approachable. When grouped into attributes relating to different aspects of being a surgeon (i.e. role as a teacher, clinician, a supervisor and a person), results showed that with regards to being a teacher, the most important attributes (other than being a “good teacher” in general) cited were being student-focused, knowledgeable and patient. As a clinician, participants mentioned being caring and competent as well as good communication skills as key characteristics. Important attributes as a supervisor were “approachable”, “encouraging” and “leader” and lastly, personal attributes included “enthusiastic”, “confident” and “friendly”.
Interestingly, these attributes didn’t vary much by gender, suggesting that male and female medical students are looking for the same qualities in role models. That being said, there were gender differences in the importance of a good work-life-balance of the role model (this was perceived as being more important by women) and being encouraging (this was perceived as more important by men).