Efficacy of Virtual Case-Based General Surgery Clerkship Curriculum During COVID-19 Distancing

Med Sci Educ. 2020 Nov 10;1-8. doi: 10.1007/s40670-020-01126-5. Online ahead of print.


Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic created a paradigm shift in medical education with a reliance upon alternative teaching methods to deliver meaningful surgery clerkship content. This study examines the efficacy of a novel, case-based virtual surgery clerkship curriculum to determine its impact on student experience during quarantine.

Study design: Sixteen third-year medical students enrolled in the General Surgery clerkship between April through June 2020 during COVID-19 distancing at a quaternary medical center (Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH) participated in this study. Course surveys, including a 10-question curriculum-based multiple-choice assessment, were administered before and after the clerkship. Analyses include student self-perception of readiness to see a surgical consult independently, students' interest in pursuing a General Surgery residency, and improvement of surgical knowledge.

Results and conclusion: On a 5-point Likert scale, students felt significantly more assured in their ability to independently assess a surgical consult by the end of the course. Five (31%) students reported an influence of the curriculum on their personal interest in a career in General Surgery. Mean scores on the curriculum-based knowledge assessment increased. These findings highlight that a virtual platform can be a reliable alternative adjunct that delivers surgical content and positively impacts student experience.

Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s40670-020-01126-5.

Keywords: COVID-19; Clerkship; Medical student; Remote learning; Surgical education.