By:  David M. Kashmer MD MBA FACS

Today we'll be discussing how an online training and curriculum, along with a structured educational curriculum in general, can really help improve ABSITE scores.

As a program director, my experience is that having some plan for how to help residents achieve their best score really is the way to go. Whether that's an online curriculum, weekly readings, a focus on questions, or having some comprehensive plan (in which I participate) seems to really make things better for residents and staff.

Overall, the literature bears that out with the programs I've helped with. We've had a discussion about exactly how we're going to go about getting our coaching in and getting things to be the best they can be.  Do we focus mostly on questions?  If so, how will we do that?  What specific didactic elements will we use?  So I'm always on the lookout for evidence about what can help take us from good to great.

It turns out that, back in 2015 in the Journal of Surgical Education a five person team published on how a structured educational curriculum, including online training, positively impacts ABSITE scores.

Link to the abstract here.

What they did was a retrospective cohort study and it was in a tertiary care hospital.  It included about 140 post graduate year ones. So PGY-1 or intern staff...about 140 of them from 2000 to 2009 participated.

And they broke these up into groups. They did have some lectures that were based on the American College of Surgeons curriculum. There was an online program they developed, which consisted of eight to 12 hours of assigned tutorials and quizzes, that went with the lectures and also about three multiple choice evaluations.

Well, it turns out that when they looked at these groups, the group that had a structured curriculum including online component and the one that had a self directed learning curriculum, they found some important things with which really jive with my experience.

And that is the structured educational curriculum (the ones that had a plan including online curriculum) had substantially better scores compared to the ones who had no formal curriculum.

There were also several other variables that seem to correlate with ABSITE score:  a USMLE step one score, monthly quiz scores, the multiple choice exam scores, lecture attendance, and time spent online seemed to be significant.

So the bottom line here is this works with my feeling on it, which is that having a plan is much better than having no plan. And having a plan that includes an online component can be very valuable.

In this case, the more time spent online in the educational curriculum online seemed to really benefit things. This literature and my experience are part of the genesis of Absite Smackdown!.

We designed it to be a great review book first that had what you would need in it to do the best you can on the exam.  But we built a lecture series that you wouldn't need to fly to in order to benefit from it. We built an entire online curriculum based around the best review book that we could possibly create. And, we did that so as to make it a readymade effective online so that you'd have an educational plan.

It's all set out there already and it all follows the book. So it was good to see that this literature matched my experience.

So when you do look at it, I sure do hope you find it useful and we'll continue to share evidence like this.

But the bottom line here is whether you use Absite Smackdown! or something else, having an educational plan with an online component sure does seem to be a lot better than not having one. So even though our plans often aren't perfect because they sometimes go off the rails, failing to plan seems to be planning to fail.

So with that, have a great, preparation time for your ABSITE. Hope you're doing well with the #Covid19 virus situation and any fallout from that you're seeing in your patients. Best of luck to you as you prepare for the ABSITE!


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