BACKGROUND: National medical student surveys amidst the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) -driven subinternship cancellations have demonstrated the need for supplemental, standardized subspecialty medical education, mentorship, and career planning nationally . We have presented the first live, cross-institutional virtual medical student subspecialty training camp to deliver standardized neurosurgical educational content to medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its results on medical student anxiety and perceptions of neurosurgery .
METHODS: The online training camp used a video conferencing platform that was open to all medical students . A post-training camp survey was administered .
RESULTS: A total of 305 medical students registered for the event from 107 unique U.S. medical schools . Of the 305 medical students, 108 reported intending to apply to neurosurgery residency in 2021 . The top medical student objectives for the training camp were program networking and mentorship . Of the 305 participants, 121 (39.7 %) completed the post-training survey . Of the respondents , 65.0% reported improved neurosurgical knowledge, 79.8% reported decreased anxiety about subinternships and interviews, 82.5% reported increased enthusiasm about neurosurgery, and 100% desired a future annual virtual training camp because of the increased accessibility and decreased cost . This was especially important for students at institutions without home subspecialty programs and those with financial burdens .
CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19-driven innovations in medical education have accelerated changes that may have long been necessary . This virtual structure improved resource usage and scalability compared with in-person training, maintained social distancing, and democratized access to standardized, specialized content not often available through traditional medical curricula . Even as a supplement to in-person events, the virtual training camp model could be implemented by national medical societies, which might significantly increase medical students' preparedness for, and education in, neurosurgery and other subspecialties.