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Application of Prior Learning Assessment to The Selection of Surgical Trainees; A Laparoscopic Simulation Study
*Courtney K White, *Salim Abunnaja, Alexander Palesty, *Shohan Shetty
St. Mary's Hospital, Waterbury, CT

Purpose: Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process commonly utilized organizations including militaries, universities, and employers as a criterion-referenced assessment of skills and knowledge acquired. RPL is not currently in use in the field of surgical training. With continued advancement in minimally invasive and robotic assisted surgeries over the past few decades there may be a role for application of RPL in selection committees when evaluating surgical candidates.
Methods: Seventy medical students from four medical schools participated in the study using a virtual reality simulator, LapSim (Surgical Science, Goteborg, Sweden). A validated curriculum for training was used which included three tasks; coordination, grasping, and lifting and grasping. Scores were based on number of repetitions required to complete each task as well as overall performance within said task. Students completed a survey providing measurable data points.
Results: No significant differences were found between groups of students with a desire to pursue surgical training and those pursuing other medical paths in overall repetitions. Significance was noted when differentiating between high, medium, and low skill groups. Fewer students with low performance (13%) wished to pursue surgery compared to those choosing another branch of medicine (32%) and there was a higher number of intermediate scores in the surgical group (65%) compared to non-surgical (47%); p value < 0.0001.
Conclusions: Creation of criterion-referenced assessment of skills of medical students and application of RPL may be an additional factor for selection committees to consider when selecting residents. An interest in surgery may have affected the prior learning of participants in the study. A standard against which to measure may also allow for realization of limitations in prospective trainees.


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