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Residents, Fellows, Attendings Surveyed on E-Learning

by Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed.

What might the participants in 197 orthopaedic surgery residency training programs have to say about e-learning? Quite a bit, according to new research from New York University Langone Health.

The new study, “Resident, Fellow, and Attending Perception of E-Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Implications on Future Orthopaedic Education,” was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Michael J. Alaia, M.D., a co-author and orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone, told OSN, “Along with several sports medicine colleagues around the country, we conducted a series of several two-hour lectures and case presentations from national experts from multiple institutions, including those from Pitt, Rush, UCLA, Wake Forest, Colorado and Stanford, to name a few. We initially found that our residents and faculty were highly complimentary of the content. They told us that they learned more from those events than from past events where they heard the cases presented by their own faculty.”

“This effort dovetailed with our own divisional educational endeavors and got me thinking that we should do a comparison of e-learning and traditional in-person learning.”

Working with a 36-question list, the researchers assessed four different areas of interest. 1) attitudes about e-learning, 2) multi-institutional e-learning/e-conferences, (3) national/regional e-conferences, and (4) the future of e-learning.

Dr. Alaia told OSN, “We collected 268 responses (100 attendings and 168 trainees). Trainees’ overall satisfaction with e-learning was higher compared with attendings, 51.4% versus 32.2%, respectively. Both trainees and attendings indicated that they were more likely to pay attention with in-person learning.”

They found that during the pandemic, 85.7% of residents had used e-learning platforms to join a conference in their specialty of interest while off-service. The majority of attendings and trainees stated that e-learning should play a supplemental role in standard residency/fellowship education; only a few respondents stated that it should not be used (86.6% versus 84%, and 2.1% versus 0.6%, respectively).

“The participants felt that with in-person classes, you learn more about your peers,” says Dr. Alaia, “However, attendings were more likely than trainees to multi-task with e-learning (66.6% versus 59.4%).”

“Also, it was interesting to see how much not just trainees, but surgeons valued the inter-institutional meetings. Every person in the study expressed a desire to continue with those particular activities.”

And how does e-learning affect the physician’s growth?

“Trainees were more likely to find multi-institutional learning more thought provoking than single institutional learning, with attendings favoring in-person learning,” wrote the authors. “In addition, trainees felt multi-institutional conferences were more likely to help their overall growth in how they think about common problems and change the way they practice.”

Dr. Alaia: “At this point, e-learning is so prevalent that many, if not all, of the subspecialty societies are developing or have developed their own set of online lectures that incorporates experts from multiple institutions.”

“Going forward, I will be particularly interested in seeing the Orthopaedic In-Training scores this year. The reality is that you can always tune out during an online lecture, run to get coffee, take a shower, etc., and no one will know that you are not listening.”

Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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