Acquisition of Surgical Skills by Final-Year Medical Students in State-Owned Medical Schools of Cameroon: Are We Doing Any Good?

  • Alain Chichom-MefireEmail author
  • Njel Gaby Keith
  • Acho Abongwa
  • Dickson Shey Nsagha
  • Marcelin Ngowe-Ngowe
Original Scientific Report



World Health Organization recommends that basic surgical care be administered at the district level. In the absence of qualified surgeons, general practitioners are sometimes proposed to bridge the gap. Medical curricula in low- and middle-income countries must be designed accordingly. The aim of this study was to assess the achievements of training of undergraduate medical students in Cameroon towards meeting this objective.


A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out in the four state-owned medical schools in Cameroon. All students who had completed all clinical rotations were assessed with a self-administered questionnaire for their exposure and self-perceived comfort in conducting some selected basic surgical skills and procedures.


A total of 304 (87.6%) students returned filled questionnaires. Their self-perceived comfort in surgical skills ranged from 25% (manual node tying) to 86% (surgical scrubbing). Adequate exposure to selected surgical procedures was 87% for repair of perineal tear complicating vaginal delivery, above 80% for caesarean section and incision and drainage of abscess, 73% for cast immobilization of extremity fracture and just above 50% for hernia repair and appendectomy. It was as low as 3% for bowel resection and anastomosis. The choice to perform extra-curricular activity for skills improvement was significantly associated with adequate exposure (p < 0.05).


Overall, the mastery of practical surgical skills and basic surgical interventions by final-year medical students in Cameroon is insufficient. There is need to reinforce the training and assessment by creating the conditions for an appropriate exposure of medical students during surgical rotations.




Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alain Chichom-Mefire
    • 1
    Email author
  • Njel Gaby Keith
    • 2
  • Acho Abongwa
    • 2
  • Dickson Shey Nsagha
    • 2
  • Marcelin Ngowe-Ngowe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of BueaBueaCameroon
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of BueaBueaCameroon

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