BACKGROUND: Application to the Irish basic surgical training (BST) program in Ireland has decreased progressively over the past 5 years. We hypothesised that this decline was secondary to dissatisfaction with training correlated with reduced operative experience and lack of mentorship among BSTs. METHODS: An anonymous 15 question electronic survey was circulated to all BSTs appraising their impression of the operative experience available to them, their mentorship and their opinions of critical aspects of training. RESULTS: Fifty trainees responded to the survey. At the commencement of training 98 % (n = 43) intended to stay in surgery, decreasing to 79 % (n = 34) during the BST. Trainees who felt they had a mentor were three times more likely to be content in surgical training (OR 3.11; 95 % CI 0.94-10.25, P = 0.06). Trainees satisfied with their allocated rotation were more likely to be content in surgical training (OR 4.5; 95 % CI 1.03-19.6, P = 0.045). Individual trainee comments revealed dissatisfaction with operative exposure. CONCLUSION: Mentorship and satisfaction with allocated training rotation had a positive impact on trainee satisfaction and correlated with contentedness in surgical training. Operative experience is the main element that trainees report as lacking. This highlights the need for reform of the training system to improve current levels of mentorship and increase operative exposure to enhance its attractiveness to the best quality medical graduates.
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