A Regional Experience with Vascular Surgery Mock Oral Examinations

Matthew P. Goldman, Thomas S. Huber, John F. Eidt, Kimberly J. Hansen, Thomas C. Naslund, Spence M. Taylor, Eric D. Endean, Matthew S. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Introduction In 2006 the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery (SAVS) implemented a mock oral examination program to prepare trainees for the Vascular Surgery Certifying Examination (VCE). Methods Participating examinees and examiners were identified from SAVS Recorder records and contacted via e-mail with a request to participate in an anonymous online survey. Examinees were asked about passage on American Board of Surgery examinations and perceptions of the mock oral program. Examiners were asked for their perceptions of the examination, applicant performance, and perceived areas for training improvement. Board passage rates for the group and national comparison data were provided in a de-identified fashion by American Board of Surgery. Results From 2006 to 2014, 158 examinees and 86 examiners participated in the SAVS mock orals program. In all, 33% of examinees and 35% of examiners completed the anonymous survey. Of the examinees, 27 (60%) reported passage of the mock oral examination on their first attempt and 7 of 9 (78%) reported passage on the second attempt. Second year in training was significantly associated with passage of the mock oral (p = 0.002). Of the examinees questioned, 100% "would recommend" the SAVS mock oral examinations to future trainees. Of the responding examiners, 90% felt that the SAVS mock oral examinations were "comparable" to the VCE and 87% "strongly agreed" that the exercise was a valuable preparatory tool. Examiners identified "ability to describe technical aspects of open vascular techniques" and "management of complications associated with vascular disease processes and operations" as commonly displayed deficits among examinees (80% and 77%, respectively). In all, 115 examinee participants from the SAVS mock orals had taken the VCE between 2006 and 2014. Of them, 90 (78%) passed the VCE on their first attempt. During the same time interval, the national first-time pass rate for the VCE was 86%. Conclusions Although participation in the SAVS mock orals was overwhelmingly assessed as a positive preparatory experience by examinees and examiners, no incremental advantage in VCE passage was observed. Explanations for the worse-than-average performance on the VCE are not clear but likely involve numerous factors, including participation bias. Importantly, examiners in the SAVS mock oral process felt that the exercise closely simulated the VCE and uniformly reported pervasive deficits in the areas of demonstrated understanding of open surgical techniques and management of complications. This investigation guides further examination of VCE simulation exercises to assist in guiding the use of educational resources at both institutional and professional society levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1089
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Association of Program Directors in Surgery.


  • Key Words mock oral examinations
  • board examinations
  • oral examinations
  • vascular surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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