The Plastic Surgery Hand Curriculum

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Abstract

Background:

Designing an effective hand rotation for plastic surgery residents is difficult. The authors address this limitation by elucidating the critical components of the hand curriculum during plastic surgery residency.

Methods:

Hand questions on the Plastic Surgery In-Service Training Exam for six consecutive years (2008 to 2013) were characterized by presence of imaging, vignette setting, question taxonomy, answer domain, anatomy, and topic. Answer references were quantified by source and year of publication.

Results:

Two hundred sixty-six questions were related to hand surgery (22.7 percent of all questions; 44.3 per year) and 61 were accompanied by an image (22.9 percent). Vignettes tended to be clinic- (50.0 percent) and emergency room–based (35.3 percent) (p < 0.001). Questions required decision-making (60.5 percent) over interpretation (25.9 percent) and recall skills (13.5 percent) (p < 0.001). Answers focused on interventions (57.5 percent) over anatomy/pathology (25.2 percent) and diagnoses (17.3 percent) (p < 0.001). Nearly half of the questions focused on the digits. The highest yield topics were trauma (35.3 percent), reconstruction (24.4 percent), and aesthetic and functional problems (14.2 percent). The Journal of Hand Surgery (American volume) (20.5 percent) and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (18.0 percent) were the most-cited journals, and the median publication lag was 7 years. Green’s Operative Hand Surgery was the most-referenced textbook (41.8 percent).

Conclusions:

These results will enable trainees to study hand surgery topics with greater efficiency. Faculty can use these results to ensure that tested topics are covered during residency training. Thus, a benchmark is established to improve didactic, clinical, and operative experiences in hand surgery.

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