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J Surg Educ ; 2022 Nov 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2095711


OBJECTIVE: The abrupt cessation of in-person education due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for preclerkship students to explore a career in surgery. To supplement the lack of exposure, the Surgical Exploration and Discovery (SEAD) program was transitioned to an entirely virtual format. This study aims to describe the virtual SEAD program and evaluate its effectiveness as a career decision-making (CDM) intervention. DESIGN: The week-long program was delivered on Microsoft Teams, featured 11 surgical specialties, and comprised four activities: live demonstrations, virtual operating room observerships, career talks, and technical skills workshops. The program was evaluated using the four levels of the Kirkpatrick model: (1) reactions, (2) knowledge, (3) CDM behaviors - assessed using the Career Decision-making Difficulties Questionnaire (CDDQ) - and (4) results. The latter was indirectly assessed using CDDQ scores from an in-person SEAD program, where lower CDDQ scores indicate less difficulty with CDM. SETTING: Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Forty pre-clerkship students (27 first and 13 second year students) at the University of Ottawa RESULTS: Level 1: 97.5% of participants rated the program as good or very good. Live demonstration and technical skills workshops were the highest rated activities. Level 2: participants' scores on knowledge-based questions about a surgical career significantly increased following the program (pre: 9/25 vs post: 15/25, p = 0.008). Level 3: overall mean CDDQ scores (±SD) decreased difficulties with significantly following the program (pre: 45.6 ± 10.5 vs post: 38.8 ± 10.9, p < 0.001), which indicates decreased CDM difficulties. Level 4: Except for one sub-category, the difference in mean CDDQ scores between the virtual and in-person programs were not significantly different. CONCLUSION: The program received the positive reactions and significantly increased participants' knowledge. The change in CDDQ scores following the virtual program suggests it may reduce career decision-making difficulties in the short-term. In-person surgical exposure remains important; however, a hybrid model may be valuable in resource limited settings. WC: 300.