A Proposed Model for a Comprehensive Virtual Sub-Internship in Vascular Surgery.
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Understand challenges, advantages, and applications of a vascular surgery virtual sub-internship (VSI) curriculum.Our institution hosted 25 students for 4-week VSI rotations. We held two sessions, one in July 2020 and another in August 2020. The students participated in a curriculum centered around Zoom® and phone interactions with residents and faculty. The curriculum included selected readings, surgical videos, group didactics and 1-on-1 mentorship. Anonymous pre-rotation and post-rotation self-assessments were used to ascertain achievement of learning objectives and utility of educational tools implemented during the rotation. Faculty and resident mentors were also surveyed to assess their experience.With the exception of knot tying techniques (p=0.67), students reported significant improvement in their understanding vascular surgery concepts after the virtual elective (p < 0.05). The highest ranked components of the course were interpersonal including interaction with faculty, mentorship, and learning the program culture. The lowest ranked components of the course were simulation training and research opportunities. Rating of utility for aspects of the course were consistent with ranking of components, with faculty interaction having the highest average rating. The ideal number of hours for daily virtual interaction reported by students ranged from 3 to 6 with a median of 4. Overall, the majority of mentors were satisfied with virtual course. However, they did report limited ability to assess student personality and fit for the program. The number of hours per week spent by mentors on the virtual vascular surgery rotation ranged from 2 to 7 with a median of 4. Fourteen out of seventeen mentors reported that having a virtual student was significant addition to their existing workload.Overall, our student and mentor feedback were positive. Several challenges inherent to the virtual environment still need to be refined, however the goals of a VSI are distinct and should be explored by training programs. With changes to healthcare in the United States in the horizon and the arrival of SARS-CoV2 pandemic constraints, implementing a virtual away rotation may be an acceptable platform for adapting our recruitment strategies.Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.