Background Surgery interns' training has historically been weighted toward patient care, operative observation, and sleeping when possible. With more protected free time and less clinical time, real educational hours for trainees in 2013 are precious. Methods We created a 20-session (3 hours each) simulation curriculum (with pre- and post-tests) and a 24/7 online audiovisual (AV) curriculum for surgery interns. Friday morning simulation sessions emphasize operative skills and judgment. AV clips (using operating room, whiteboard, and simulation center videos) take learners through 20 different general surgery operations with follow-up quizzes. We report our early experience with this novel setup. Results Thirty-two surgical interns (2012-2013) attended simulation sessions on 20 separate subjects (hernia, breast, hepatobiliary, endocrine, etc). Post-test scores improved (P <.05) and trainees enjoyed using surgical skills for 3 hours each Friday morning (mean, >4.5; Likert scale, 1-5). The AV curriculum feedback is similar (mean, >4.3) and usage is available 24/7 preparing learners for both operating room and simulation sessions. Most simulation sessions utilize low-fidelity models to keep costs <$50 per session. Scores on our semiannual Surgical Olympics (mean score of 49.6 in July vs 82.9 in January; P <.05) improved significantly, suggesting that interns are improving their surgical skills and knowledge. Conclusion Residents enjoy and learn from the step-by-step, in-house, AV curriculum and both appreciate and thrive on the 'hands-on' simulation sessions mimicking operations they see in real operating rooms. The cost of these programs is not prohibitive and the programs offer simulated repetitions for duty-hour-regulated trainees.
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