Effects of Postgraduate Medical Education "Boot Camps" on Clinical Skills, Knowledge, and Confidence: A Meta-Analysis

J Grad Med Educ. 2014 Dec;6(4):643-52. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-13-00373.1.


Background: Throughout their medical education, learners face multiple transition periods associated with increased demands, producing stress and concern about the adequacy of their skills for their new role.

Objective: We evaluated the effectiveness of boot camps in improving clinical skills, knowledge, and confidence during transitions into postgraduate or discipline-specific residency programs.

Methods: Boot camps are in-training courses combining simulation-based practice with other educational methods to enhance learning and preparation for individuals entering new clinical roles. We performed a search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, EMBASE, and ERIC using boot camp and comparable search terms. Inclusion criteria included studies that reported on medical education boot camps, involved learners entering new clinical roles in North American programs, and reported empirical data on the effectiveness of boot camps to improve clinical skills, knowledge, and/or confidence. A random effects model meta-analysis was performed to combined mean effect size differences (Cohen's d) across studies based on pretest/posttest or comparison group analyses.

Results: The search returned 1096 articles, 15 of which met all inclusion criteria. Combined effect size estimates showed learners who completed boot camp courses had significantly "large" improvements in clinical skills (d = 1.78; 95% CI 1.33-2.22; P < .001), knowledge (d = 2.08; 95% CI 1.20-2.96; P < .001), and confidence (d = 1.89; 95% CI 1.63-2.15; P < .001).

Conclusions: Boot camps were shown as an effective educational strategy to improve learners' clinical skills, knowledge, and confidence. Focus on pretest/posttest research designs limits the strength of these findings.

Publication types

  • Review