BACKGROUND: During the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the quality of surgical education experiences sudden major restrictions . Students' presence in the operating theater and on wards is reduced to a bare minimum and face-to-face teaching is diminished . Aim of this study was therefore to evaluate alternative but feasible educational concepts, such as an online-only-platform for undergraduates .
OBJECTIVE: A new online platform for undergraduate surgical education was implemented . A virtual curriculum for online-only education was designed .
METHODS: A video-based online platform was designed . Following this, a cohort of medical students participating in a (voluntary) surgical course was randomized into a test and control group . Prior to conducting a written exam, students in the test group prepared using the video platform . Students in the control group prepared with standard surgical text books . Results of the exam were used to compare educational means .
RESULTS: Students in the test group preparing through the video-based online platform reached significantly higher scores in the written exams (p = 0.0001) than students of the control group . A trend towards reduced preparation time that did not reach statistical significance was detectable in the test group (p = 0.090). Scores of``perceived workload"and``desire to become a surgeon"offered no differences between the groups . (p = 0.474 and 1.000).
CONCLUSIONS: An online-only, virtual curriculum proved feasible for surgical education in undergraduates . While blended learning concepts were applied in both groups, only the test group had access to case-based videos of surgical procedures and scored significantly better in the written exams . Thus, video-based virtual education offers a realistic alternative to face-to-face teaching or conventional text books in times of restricted access to the operating theatre.