Varied assessment strategies are required in the process of deciding whether a surgeon is competent to graduate. Despite doubts about the reliability of the oral examination and the challenges of standardising examiner practices, it remains an important assessment method in surgical exit examinations. Structured orals may facilitate the measurement of course outcomes.
This study explored the experiences of surgical trainees and examiners using a video-assisted, mock structured oral examination (SOE) as an assessment tool.
This descriptive study incorporated procedural videos in a case-based SOE format. One group of trainees had face-to-face contact with the examiner, and the other was assessed on an online platform, e.g., Microsoft Teams™, with a remote examiner. After the SOE, a focus group interview was conducted with surgical trainees and individual interviews with examiners.
Themes were developed from the interview transcripts. These centred around the utility of videos in this examination format and technical issues during the SOE. Further themes highlighted the standardization of questions and preparation of examiners.
Overall, procedural videos as part of the mock SOE were experienced as valuable. Adding video recordings to the online platform posed administrative and technical challenges. However, the trainees and the examiners could log in from peripheral clinical training sites, which was experienced as an advantage. This study provides a glimpse into the application of procedural videos during SOEs as an assessment tool, from the perspective of surgical trainees and examiners. Efforts should focus on standardization of the examination format, optimizing technical issues, and improving examiner preparation.
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