Third year medical student knowledge gaps after a virtual surgical rotation

Am J Surg. 2022 Jul;224(1 Pt B):366-370. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2022.03.022. Epub 2022 Apr 5.


Introduction: This study describes perceived knowledge gaps of third-year medical students after participating in a virtual surgical didactic rotation (EMLR) and shortened in-person surgery rotation during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Methods: Open-ended and Likert questions were administered at the end of the virtual rotation and inperson-surgical rotation to medical students. Three blinded coders identified themes by semantic analysis.

Results: 82 students (51% of all MS3s) participated in the EMLR. Semantic analysis revealed gaps in perioperative management (Post-EMLR:18.4%, Post-Inpatient:26.5%), anatomy (Post-EMLR:8.2%, PostInpatient:26.5%). and surgical skills (Post-EMLR: 43.0%, Post-Inpatient: 44.1%). Students also described gaps related to OR etiquette (Post-EMLR: 12.2%, Post-Inpatient: 8.8%) and team dynamics/the hidden curriculum (Post- Inpatient:26.6%). There was a significant improvement in perceived confidence to perform inpatient tasks after completing the inpatient clinical experience (p ≤ 0.01).

Conclusion: Virtual interactive didactics for cognitive skills development cannot replace a full clinical surgical experience for third-year medical students. Future curricula should address perceived gaps.

Keywords: COVID-19; Knowledge gap; Medical student education; Pandemic; Surgery; Virtual education.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Distance*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration
  • General Surgery* / education
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Pandemics
  • Students, Medical* / psychology