Evaluation of a Surgery-Based Adjunct Course for Senior Medical Students Entering Surgical Residencies

J Surg Educ. 2016 Jul-Aug;73(4):631-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2016.03.011. Epub 2016 May 8.


Background: Preparatory courses for senior medical students aim to ease the transition from medical school to residency. We designed a novel adjunct curriculum to enhance students' readiness for surgical internship. This study addresses the feasibility and outcomes of this course.

Materials and methods: A curriculum was designed based on ACGME surgical milestones. Students participated in 8 (3h) sessions held over 4 weeks as an adjunct to a well-established intern preparatory course. Course activities involved interactive simulation cases to emphasize care of surgical patients, and skills sessions focused on knot tying and suturing, which were reinforced with home video assignments. Students rated confidence on 14 management skills using a 5-point Likert scale (5 = high confidence). Faculty graded students' technical performance using a global scale (0-10) for 5 suturing exercises. Comparisons between precourse and postcourse data collected for all measures were made using t-tests (α = 0.05).

Results: A total of 11 students entering 4 different surgical fields participated. Overall confidence in patient management improved from 2.41 to 3.89 (standard deviation = 0.49, 0.35; p < 0.05). Students' scores on all 5 suturing tasks increased (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: We developed a surgery-specific component to the existing preparatory course at our institution. Students demonstrated increased confidence in ward management skills and increased technical scores in all exercises. Although only 3 sessions were dedicated to technical skills, improvements may highlight the benefit of home video assignments. This course serves as a specialty-specific model for schools with existing preparatory courses. Our curriculum highlights skills specific for surgical residency, while maximizing resources.

Keywords: Interpersonal and Communication Skills; Medical Knowledge; Patient Care; Practice-Based Learning and Improvement; intern preparatory course; medical education; surgical curriculum.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Students, Medical
  • United States