Assessment of otolaryngic knowledge in primary care residents

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013 Mar;148(3):420-4. doi: 10.1177/0194599812472314. Epub 2013 Jan 9.


Objectives: (1) Determine the amount of exposure to otolaryngology in medical training of non-otolaryngology residents. (2) Evaluate the general otolaryngic knowledge in these residents.

Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Academic medical center.

Subjects and methods: A 10-question multiple-choice quiz was given to residents in family practice, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and internal medicine during scheduled educational conferences. Residents were also asked if they ever participated in an otolaryngology rotation during medical school or residency. Medical students and otolaryngology residents completed the quiz to act as controls.

Results: A total of 98 examinations were analyzed (49 non-otolaryngology residents, 10 otolaryngology residents, and 39 second-year medical students). Only 24% of the non- otolaryngology residents had an otolaryngology rotation during medical school. The same amount (24%) had a rotation during residency. The average percentage correct on the quiz was 48%, 56%, and 92% for medical students, non-otolaryngology, and otolaryngology residents, respectively (P < 0.05). Questions with surprising results included one with an endoscopic image of the middle turbinate and examinees asked to identify the structure (non-otolaryngology residents = 18% correct). A laryngectomy stoma was shown and participants asked what would happen if the stoma was occluded for 10 minutes (non-otolaryngology residents = 20% correct).

Conclusion: In this sample of non-otolaryngology residents, a minority experienced a clinical rotation in otolaryngology during medical school or residency. This nonvalidated questionnaire also suggested significant deficiencies in basic otolaryngic knowledge in these residents. Identifying mechanisms to improve exposure to otolaryngology in the medical training curriculum is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Otolaryngology* / education
  • Physicians, Primary Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States