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We examined retention rates for basic surgical skills taught through a 1-month intensive laboratory boot camp-style course at the onset of residency.We present data from 3 groups, each composed of 6 residents. The first group consisted of residents from a new competency-based curriculum (CBC). They started residency training with the Toronto Orthopaedic Boot Camp course. The other 2 groups were junior (JR) and senior (SR) residents from a traditional program whose residency training included no such course. Performance on targeted technical skills was tested using an objective structured assessment of technical skills examination 7 months after the onset of training for the CBC and JR groups and at least 43 months after the onset of training for the SR group.The mean global rating scale score for the CBC group immediately after the skills course was 4.3, which was maintained 6 months later. There were no significant performance differences between the CBC and SR groups. Both the CBC and SR groups performed significantly better than the JR group (mean global rating scale 3.7; F[2, 15] = 12.269, P < .001).We conclude that a surgical skills course at the onset of residency is an effective mechanism for teaching targeted technical skills and that skills taught in this manner can have excellent retention rates. Furthermore, an early focus on technical skills allows junior residents to perform at the same level as senior residents for certain tasks and may privilege later learning.