Outcome of the Joint Council of Thoracic Surgery Education's Early Review Course Project

Mark S. Allen, John H. Calhoon, David Fullerton, Richard Shemin, Keith Naunheim, Edward Verrier, John Doty, Douglas J. Mathisen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background The Joint Council on Thoracic Surgical Education was formed in 2008 to improve cardiothoracic education. Resident learning has been a concern as reflected in declining passing rates on the American Board of Thoracic Surgery examinations. The Joint Council on Thoracic Surgical Education piloted a program to determine whether early exposure to a cardiothoracic curriculum through participation in a board review course would improve learning. The purpose of this paper is to report the results of this project. Methods Residents from the incoming classes of traditional 5-2 or 5-3 cardiothoracic training programs were randomly selected to attend a 3-day board review course (University of Utah) in September of their first year. For the 2012 and 2013 classes of cardiothoracic residents, we asked all incoming residents to take the prior spring in-training examination in July of their first year and then take the in-training examination in the spring of their first year. We combined the results of the incoming class of 2012 and 2013 and analyzed the results. Results There were 171 residents who participated in either 2012 or 2013. There were 38 residents (78.9% were men) who attended the board review course and 133 (79.7% men) who did not. Questionnaires completed by the program directors and the residents who took the review course showed a favorable opinion of the program. The number of correct answers on the in-training examination, the percentage correct, and the percentile rank score increased more for the residents who took the review course, but was not statistically significant. When only the general thoracic surgery questions were analyzed, there was a statistically significant increase in the rank change between residents who attended the review course and residents who did not (8.4% increase versus 2.0% decrease, respectively; p = 0.042, Student t test). Conclusions This pilot study established for the first time the baseline level of knowledge of incoming residents assessed by the in-training examination. Participation in a board review type course early in the residency training program may increase learning by cardiothoracic residents, but there was not a clear statistical difference between the two groups. The program was viewed as favorable by both the participating residents and the program directors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1564-1568
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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