Evaluating the Current State of Ergonomics Education Offered to Students in US Medical Students

Scott M. Pierce, Adee J. Heiman, Joseph A. Ricci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The high rate of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) among surgeons is well-documented and found to factor into medical students’ interest in surgical specialties. Ergonomic techniques can reduce musculoskeletal pain in surgeons. Access to ergonomics education in residency is minimal and the ergonomics education offered in medical school has not been characterized. Methods: An anonymous, online survey was distributed to 210 administrators in medical education and curriculum at all accredited US allopathic medical schools. They were asked about their knowledge of ergonomics, assessment of potential benefits of ergonomics education to their students, and the ergonomics education offered at their institution. Results: A total of 71 surveys were completed (33.8% response rate). 82% of schools reported familiarity with the study of ergonomics and 81% thought it would be beneficial to the future careers of their students to receive ergonomics education. Respondents estimated 43% of surgeons experience WMSDs and those that did not think ergonomics education would be beneficial to their students’ future careers had a statistically significantly lower estimate of WMSD burden amongst practicing surgeons. Only one respondent reported that students at their institution receive greater than three hours of ergonomics education, while 98% reported their students will receive less than three hours. Considering this, 81% of respondents reported that students do have access to other resources that encourage ergonomic practices, such as gym access, yoga classes, and surgical simulation labs. Discussion: Medical schools should increase access to ergonomics education and integrate it into their curriculum as early as possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1798-1806
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • education
  • ergonomics
  • medical school curriculum
  • medical students
  • work-related musculoskeletal disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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