Implementation and Impact Evaluation of a Virtual Orthopaedic Continuing Medical Education Conference in a Low-Resource Country

J Surg Educ. 2021 Feb 8;S1931-7204(21)00002-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2021.01.002. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objective: The Haitian Annual Assembly of Orthopaedic Trauma (HAAOT) is an annual continuing medical education (CME) conference for Haitian orthopedists and trainees converted to a pilot virtual format in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We evaluated this virtual format's effectiveness at teaching, facilitating bilingual discussion, and encouraging cross-cultural exchange of experiences - all aimed at improving orthopedic knowledge in a low-resource country like Haiti.

Design: Planned collaboratively between North American and Haitian colleagues, the conference involved 4 bilingual weekly Zoom meetings comprised of 4 to 6 prerecorded presentations and live-translated discussion. Pre- and postmeeting knowledge assessments in French (Haitian language of medical instruction) were administered weekly with results compared via 2-sample t-tests. An online postconference survey evaluated attendee satisfaction with the virtual format.

Setting: Virtual.

Participants: Weekly attendance involved approximately 50 Haitian orthopedists and trainees, with 20 to 25 completing pre- and postmeeting assessments.

Results: Statistically significant increases between pre/post scores were seen during 3 of 4 sessions. Session-wide significant score increases occurred for residents and attending surgeons with <10 years of experience. 85.7% of attendees reported the virtual platform exceeded expectations and 100% indicated likely or extremely likely participation in further virtual events.

Conclusions: The pilot virtual HAAOT was extremely well received with high desire for future sessions. Beyond short-term knowledge retention among attendees, nonmeasurable benefits included collaboration between orthopedists and trainees in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Haiti, and Burkina Faso. As COVID-19 spurs online learning in high-income nations, the successful low-resource context adjustments and local partnership underlying this model attest that travel restrictions need not impede delivery of virtual CME conferences in lower-income nations. Attendee learning and the decreased cost and travel requirements allude to this platform's sustainability and reproducibility in facilitating future international education and capacity building. Further studies will assess long-term retention of presented material.

Keywords: Continuing Medical Education; Haiti; Orthopaedic Training; Sustainability; Virtual Conference; Virtual Education.