The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unpreceded changes to medical education. Medical students interested in urology and neurosurgery have reported concerns regarding COVID-19’s effects on clinical experience and the residency application process; however, the impact amongst students interested in plastic surgery is unknown. We hypothesized that students applying into plastic surgery may experience much distress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An electronic survey was developed by 3 plastic surgery residents and 2 academic plastic surgeons and later refined by 4 fourth-year medical students. Questions focused on medical education curricular changes, perceived impact on medical education, and demographics. From April-May 2020 the survey was distributed to medical students who were interested in plastic surgery. Participants were identified through plastic surgery residency program personnel and social media platforms.
130 of the 140 respondents reported interest in plastic surgery careers. An estimated 67% were in their clinical years or completing research year(s) before residency applications. Of the respondents, 80% believed that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their medical education. Clinical-level students compared with preclinical-level students, and students applying to residency during the 2020-2021 match cycle compared with students not applying during the 2020-2021 match cycle were significantly more likely to perceive the COVID-19 pandemic as having a negative impact on their medical education ( = 0.04 and 0.03, respectively).
Medical students interested in plastic surgery perceive the COVID-19 pandemic as having a negative impact on their education, likely due to a reduction in clinical exposure.

Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
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