Objective: Shift work on a pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) rotation makes didactic scheduling difficult, thereby limiting teaching opportunities. These constraints make this rotation an ideal setting to supplement resident education with an online curriculum. We aimed to determine if implementation of an online curriculum during a resident PEM rotation improves posttest performance and increases satisfaction with resident educational experience.
Methods: This was a prospective before/after study of pediatric and emergency medicine residents on a 1-month rotation in a tertiary care pediatric emergency department. A curriculum was developed consisting of 17 online modules. In the first 5 months of the study, 42 control residents received traditional bedside teaching. In the last 12 months, 80 intervention residents completed at least 8 modules during their rotation. Both groups completed a pretest at rotation start and a posttest and end-of-rotation survey at rotation end.
Results: Control group pretest and posttest scores were not significantly different. In the intervention group, posttest scores were significantly increased compared with pretest scores (68 vs 59, P < 0.01). A low percentage of residents completed the study. Only 42% of the 189 residents enrolled in the intervention group completed the posttest and 28% completed the survey.
Conclusions: Implementing an online PEM curriculum significantly improved knowledge. As residency programs face new duty hour requirements, online curricula may provide an effective way to supplement teaching. However, to capitalize on this self-directed curriculum, the low participation rates in this study suggest we must first determine and establish ways to overcome barriers to online learning.