The remedial year in the general surgery board certification process: How effective is it?

Christina G. Rehm, Pamela Rowland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The American Board of Surgery (ABS) intends to assure high standards for knowledge and experience in every graduate from an approved general surgery program. They have gone to great lengths to devise an optimal remediation process for every candidate failing to reach these standards. But what is the effectiveness of the remediation process? Methods: ABS data outlined the history and development of the remediation process up to its current form. A core component of this process is a specifically structured additional year of training at selected institutions. Ten institutions, which were classified as outstanding by the ABS, received a standardized confidential questionnaire to collect data that included the institution's impetus to administer a remedial year (RY), organization of their RY, specific emphasis points, role of advisors, funding, and choice of RY candidates. Each institution was asked to mail a letter to their RY graduates, asking for their participation in a follow-up study aimed at characterizing the failing candidate. Results: ABS data have been available since 1980. Pass rates for the qualifying written examination (QE) improved steadily from about 63% in 1985 to 78% in 2003. Pass rates for the certifying oral examination (CE) have been consistently around 75% since 1985 with improvement to just above 80% within the last 4 years. In 1995, a new ABS policy was announced requiring an additional year of structured training with specific elements. For the QE, the general pool pass rates continued their steady improvement. Although the results for RY candidates did reveal a 20% improved pass rate, they were still 30 percentage points lower when compared with the general pass rates. No improvement was noted in the CE results. In 2003, ABS enacted the latest policy change, which consists of an alternative pathway for QE. The initial experience for 2003 is disappointing. Less than 10 candidates have taken advantage of this alternative, and pass rates have not improved. The policy for CE was changed to allow 5 attempts (up from 3 attempts) in 5 years, and currently it is too early to determine the impact of this change. Nine of 10 institutions agreed to participate in our study. They identified the essential elements of a successful RY. They also emphasized that CE remediation has to go beyond correction of simple knowledge deficits. And they characterized the ideal candidate for remediation. No RY graduates agreed to participate in the planned follow-up study to characterize the failing candidate. Conclusion: The RY process seems to have a valid potential if specific conditions are met. We do believe that differentiation is needed between the QE and the CE remedial year programs. Because the CE incorporates rhetorical skills, an emphasis should be placed on public speaking and presentation skills in a remedial year for the CE. We recommend several possible avenues for consideration: identifying the resident at risk and intervening during residency, incorporating the RY process into the ongoing practice routine of the individual candidate, and actively recruiting participation of candidates in a needs assessment study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-649
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Surgery
Volume62
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005

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Oral Diagnosis
Certification
surgery
certification
candidacy
examination
graduate
Needs Assessment
Postal Service
Internship and Residency
participation
History
speaking
deficit
experience
funding

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery

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The remedial year in the general surgery board certification process : How effective is it? / Rehm, Christina G.; Rowland, Pamela.

In: Current Surgery, Vol. 62, No. 6, 01.11.2005, p. 644-649.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rehm, Christina G. ; Rowland, Pamela. / The remedial year in the general surgery board certification process : How effective is it?. In: Current Surgery. 2005 ; Vol. 62, No. 6. pp. 644-649.
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abstract = "Background: The American Board of Surgery (ABS) intends to assure high standards for knowledge and experience in every graduate from an approved general surgery program. They have gone to great lengths to devise an optimal remediation process for every candidate failing to reach these standards. But what is the effectiveness of the remediation process? Methods: ABS data outlined the history and development of the remediation process up to its current form. A core component of this process is a specifically structured additional year of training at selected institutions. Ten institutions, which were classified as outstanding by the ABS, received a standardized confidential questionnaire to collect data that included the institution's impetus to administer a remedial year (RY), organization of their RY, specific emphasis points, role of advisors, funding, and choice of RY candidates. Each institution was asked to mail a letter to their RY graduates, asking for their participation in a follow-up study aimed at characterizing the failing candidate. Results: ABS data have been available since 1980. Pass rates for the qualifying written examination (QE) improved steadily from about 63{\%} in 1985 to 78{\%} in 2003. Pass rates for the certifying oral examination (CE) have been consistently around 75{\%} since 1985 with improvement to just above 80{\%} within the last 4 years. In 1995, a new ABS policy was announced requiring an additional year of structured training with specific elements. For the QE, the general pool pass rates continued their steady improvement. Although the results for RY candidates did reveal a 20{\%} improved pass rate, they were still 30 percentage points lower when compared with the general pass rates. No improvement was noted in the CE results. In 2003, ABS enacted the latest policy change, which consists of an alternative pathway for QE. The initial experience for 2003 is disappointing. Less than 10 candidates have taken advantage of this alternative, and pass rates have not improved. The policy for CE was changed to allow 5 attempts (up from 3 attempts) in 5 years, and currently it is too early to determine the impact of this change. Nine of 10 institutions agreed to participate in our study. They identified the essential elements of a successful RY. They also emphasized that CE remediation has to go beyond correction of simple knowledge deficits. And they characterized the ideal candidate for remediation. No RY graduates agreed to participate in the planned follow-up study to characterize the failing candidate. Conclusion: The RY process seems to have a valid potential if specific conditions are met. We do believe that differentiation is needed between the QE and the CE remedial year programs. Because the CE incorporates rhetorical skills, an emphasis should be placed on public speaking and presentation skills in a remedial year for the CE. We recommend several possible avenues for consideration: identifying the resident at risk and intervening during residency, incorporating the RY process into the ongoing practice routine of the individual candidate, and actively recruiting participation of candidates in a needs assessment study.",
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