American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
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Cross-Institutional Virtual Mock Oral Exam - a New Paradigm?
Arvind D. Manisundaram, MD, Erik S. Marques, MD, Phuong D. Nguyen, MD
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX, USA

Introduction: Mock oral examinations (MOEs) are shown to be valuable in preparation for national board oral exams. While traditionally these exams have been in-person, improved technological advances have supported exploring virtual alternatives. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has further necessitated virtual learning. Without the constraints of physical logistical coordination, we hypothesized that the virtual platform would improve and expand the MOE experience to include collaborative institutions while still approximating a board examination environment.
Methods: 16 senior plastic surgery residents and 14 attending faculty from three separate plastic surgery training programs participated in a regional, cross-institutional virtual MOE. Over a single day, each resident was evaluated by 2 faculty from a separate institution on 6 clinical scenarios, including digitally interactive portions with photographs. An immediate post-exam debriefing with feedback between examiner and examinee was performed. All participants were subsequently invited to complete an anonymous survey regarding prior MOE experience, accuracy, usability, and stress of the virtual environment, with responses graded on a Likert scale (1-5).
Results: 23 participants (76.7%) completed the survey, with 87% having prior MOE experience and 69.6% specifically having plastic surgery MOE experience. However, only 26.1% of participants had experience with virtual MOE. Most found the virtual platform more convenient (4.18+/-1.18; 5 far more convenient, 1 far less convenient) and less stressful (2.32+/-0.65; 5 far more stressful, 1 far less stressful) than in-person, with no statistical difference between residents and attendings. All participants found the exam fair, and participants found the exam valuable (4.65+/-0.57; 5 extremely valuable, 1 no significant value) in preparing residents for the ABPS oral examination, with 91.3% of participants strongly recommending future participation. If given the option between virtual and in-person formats, a majority of faculty (61.5%) still preferred an in-person MOE, while only 30% of residents preferred the in-person format.
Conclusion: The majority of participants found the virtual MOE experience valuable and comparable to in-person. Interestingly, most faculty still preferred an in-person format, compared to only 30% of residents. These results reinforce that virtual MOEs provide an acceptable alternative with greater convenience and improved collaborative efforts between institutions.

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