Development and Implementation of a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Virtual Curriculum
Abra H. Shen, SB1; Allyson R. Alfonso, BS, BA2; Anna Rose Johnson, MD1; Nicholas G. Cuccolo, MD1; Bernard T. Lee, MD, MPH, MBA1; Samuel J. Lin, MD, MBA1
1Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA. 2Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery, NYU Langone Health, New York, NY, USA
Background: COVID-19 displaced medical students from operating rooms and into virtual classrooms. The impact of this pandemic is far-reaching and may adversely influence interest in surgical specialties, diversity in anatomic knowledge, and hands-on surgical experience. We aimed to develop a plastic surgery virtual curriculum to fill this gap with the goals to expose students to the specialty, build surgical knowledge, teach technical skills, and create community.
Methods: We designed and implemented a structured, four-week educational curriculum which included curated learning modules that cover main topics within plastic surgery. Students were provided daily assignments from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Resident Education Curriculum and DeckerMed Plastic Surgery Core Curriculum. Biweekly, small group virtual clinical case discussions and weekly virtual knot tying workshops were provided. Pre- and post-course surveys were administered and analyzed using SPSS.
Results: 298 medical students and recent graduates (35.9% fourth-years) from 18 countries enrolled in the course in June 2020. 190 students completed the pre-course survey (63.8% response rate), and of those, 30.5% completed the post-course survey. 98.4% participants reported having at least one educational commitment cancelled in June. Students who participated in case discussions (n=33) had significant increases in confidence levels in knowledge of relevant anatomy, work-up, and surgical approaches for common clinical cases (p<0.001). Confidence in knot-tying technique significantly improved among workshop participants (p=0.003). Students applying to residency programs this cycle felt significantly more connected to the community of applicants after the course (p=0.001).
Conclusion: The Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Virtual Curriculum improved knowledge, surgical skills, and community in the field among medical student participants. This course may serve to inform other surgical subspecialties in developing similar virtual educational opportunities and also serve to provide a paradigm for structured virtual learning activities for students interested in plastic surgery.
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