A Pilot Comparison of Standardized Online Surgical Curricula for Use in Low- and Middle-Income Countries


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Abstract

IMPORTANCESurgical conditions are an important component of global disease burden, due in part to critical shortages of adequately trained surgical providers in low- and middle-income countries.OBJECTIVESTo assess the use of Internet-based educational platforms as a feasible approach to augmenting the education and training of surgical providers in these settings.DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTSAccess to two online curricula was offered to 75 surgical faculty and trainees from 12 low- and middle-income countries for 60 days. The Surgical Council on Resident Education web portal was designed for general surgery trainees in the United States, and the School for Surgeons website was built by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland specifically for the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa. Participants completed an anonymous online survey detailing their experiences with both platforms. Voluntary respondents were daily Internet users and endorsed frequent use of both print and online textbooks as references.MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURESLikert scale survey questionnaire responses indicating overall and content-specific experiences with the Surgical Council on Resident Education and School for Surgeons curricula.RESULTSSurvey responses were received from 27 participants. Both online curricula were rated favorably, with no statistically significant differences in stated willingness to use and recommend either platform to colleagues. Despite regional variations in practice context, there were few perceived hurdles to future curriculum adoption.CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCEBoth the Surgical Council on Resident Education and School for Surgeons educational curricula were well received by respondents in low- and middle-income countries. Although one was designed for US surgical postgraduates and the other for sub-Saharan African surgical providers, there were no significant differences detected in participant responses between the two platforms. Online educational resources have promise as an effective means to enhance the education of surgical providers in low- and middle-income countries.

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