Core versus specialty rotations do not affect students' surgical development

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BACKGROUND: Research is scarce on how the diversity of surgical rotations affects students. We sought to assess the effect of core rotations compared to specialty rotations on students' development.

METHODS: Students were given a suturing workshop at the beginning of their surgical clerkship along with a questionnaire. They performed both a simple and a complex suturing task at the beginning and end of the 2-month clerkship. The students were divided into 2 groups based on their surgical rotations. Technical skill and exam scores were compared.

RESULTS: Thirty-eight students were included in the study. Objective scores increased for the simple task (14.2, standard deviation 4.5 vs 16.4, standard deviation 4.2, P = .04) and the complex task (12.9, standard deviation 5.3 vs 16.5, standard deviation 4.1, P < .01). Times decreased for the simple task (5.1, standard deviation 1.8 vs 4.1, standard deviation 1.3, min, P < .01) and the complex task (7.9, standard deviation 2.7 vs 6.3, standard deviation 1.5, min, P < .01). Using multivariate analysis, we found that reported hours in the operating room per week and previous hands-on experience affected proficiency of the simple suturing task only. Sixteen students had predominantly core surgical rotations. When compared to the 22 students with more specialty rotations, the only difference was gender (87.5% male vs 50.0% male, P = 0.02). There was no significant difference in the completion times (P = .96, .82), the objective scores (P = .06, .120), the written exam scores (P = .57), or the oral exam scores (P = .89).

CONCLUSION: In this small study, it was found that the type of students' rotations does not affect surgical skill or knowledge acquisition.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Clinical Competence; Female; Humans; Male; Specialties, Surgical; Suture Techniques

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