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Dedicated skills courses may help to prepare 4th-year medical students for surgical internships. The purpose of this study was to analyze the factors that influence the preparedness of 4th-year medical students planning a surgical career, and the role that our skills course plays in that preparedness.
A comprehensive skills course for senior medical students matching in a surgical specialty was conducted each spring from 2006 through 2009. Students were surveyed for background skills, clerkship experience, and skills confidence levels (1-5 Likert scale). Assessment included 5 suturing and knot-tying tasks pre- and postcourse and a written examination. Data are presented as mean values +/- standard deviations; statistical analyses were by 2-tailed t test, linear regression, and analysis of variance.
Sixty-five 4th-year students were enrolled; most common specialties were general surgery (n = 22) and orthopedics (n = 16). Thirty-five students were elite musicians (n = 16) or athletes (n = 19) and 8 regular videogamers. Suturing task times improved significantly from pre- to postcourse for all 5 tasks (total task times pre, 805 +/- 202 versus post, 627 +/- 168 seconds [P < .0001]) as did confidence levels for 8 skills categories, including management of on-call problems (P < .05). Written final examination proficiency (score >/=70%) was achieved by 81% of students. Total night call experience 3rd year was 23.3 +/- 10.7 nights (7.3 +/- 4.3 surgical call) and 4th year 10.5 +/- 7.4 nights (7.2 +/- 6.8 surgical call). Precourse background variables significantly associated with outcome measures were athletics with precourse suturing and 1-handed knot tying (P < .05); general surgery specialty and instrument tying (P = .012); suturing confidence levels and precourse suturing and total task times (P = .024); and number of nonsurgical call nights with confidence in managing acute on-call problems (P = .028). No significant correlation was found between these variables and postcourse performance.
Completion of an accelerated skills course results in comparable levels of student performance postcourse across a variety of preclinical backgrounds and clerkship experiences.
Department of Surgery and Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.
This article was published in the following journal.
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Diagnosed when there are specific deficits in an individual’s ability to perceive or process information efficiently and accurately. This disorder first manifests during the years of formal schooling and is characterized by persistent and impairing difficulties with learning foundational academic skills in reading, writing, and/or math. The individual’s performance of the affected academic skills is well below average for age, or acceptable performance levels are achieved only with extraordinary effort. Specific learning disorder may occur in individuals identified as intellectually gifted and manifest only when the learning demands or assessment procedures (e.g., timed tests) pose barriers that cannot be overcome by their innate intelligence and compensatory strategies. For all individuals, specific learning disorder can produce lifelong impairments in activities dependent on the skills, including occupational performance. (from DSM-V)
Preclinical testing of drugs in experimental animals or in vitro for their biological and toxic effects and potential clinical applications.
The persistence to perform a learned behavior (facts or experiences) after an interval has elapsed in which there has been no performance or practice of the behavior.
Performance of complex motor acts.
Field of research that studies mental factors influencing the attainment of athletic skills and athletic performance.