Orthopedic boot camp: Examining the effectiveness of an intensive surgical skills course
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BACKGROUND: Changes in health care across the globe have had a profound impact on the number of hands-on surgical training opportunities that are available to residents. In the current study, we examine whether an intensive laboratory-based skills course at the start of orthopedic surgical training is an effective mechanism for teaching core technical skills. METHODS: First-year residents were divided into 3 groups (on-service, n = 8; off-service, n = 8; and a new, competency-based program that has as a major element of the curriculum a focused, intensive skills laboratory-based experience, n = 6). Baseline surgical skills were assessed prior to commencing training. The intensive skills laboratory group was then given an intensive surgical skills course, whereas the other 2 groups embarked on traditional residency. After the surgical skills course, all the residents were assessed for core surgical skills using an objective structured assessment of technical skills (OSATS) procedure. RESULTS: Pretraining scores revealed no differences between the groups of residents using both checklist (F[2,19] = 0.852, P = .442) and global rating scores (F[2,19] = 0.704, P = .507). Post-training scores revealed a significant difference, with residents from the intensive skills laboratory group performing better on both the checklists (on-service = 78.9, off-service = 78.6, intensive skills laboratory = 92.3; F[2,19] = 6.914, P < .01) and global rating scores (on-service = 3.4, off-service = 3.4, intensive skills laboratory = 4.3; F[2,19] = 5.722, P < .01), than the other groups who showed no differences between them. CONCLUSION: The intensive skills course used in this study was highly effective at teaching and developing targeted surgical skills in first-year orthopedic residents. We predict that allowing residents to acquire key technical skills at the start of their training will enhance learning opportunities at later stages of training.
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