Assessing medical students' and surgery residents' clinical competence in problem solving in surgical oncology

David A. Sloan, Michael B. Donnelly, Richard W. Schwartz, Larry C. Munch, Mark D. Wells, Steven B. Johnson, William E. Strodel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: We sought to determine the competence of medical students and surgery residents in evaluating clinical problems (using both real and simulated patients) in surgical oncology. Methods: Forty-five third-year medical students, 23 first postgraduate year (PGY-1) residents, and seven second postgraduate year (PGY-2) residents were presented with the same four clinical problems (breast evaluation, prostate nodule, colon cancer, and mole evaluation). The two resident groups were presented with two additional patients (breast cancer options and thyroid mass). Results: Mean performance scores for the problems were generally poor (32-72%); most students and residents failed almost all of the problems. Level of training was of some importance; the overall mean scores of the PGY-2 residents were superior to those of the medical students and the PGY-1 residents (p=0.049). However, in many areas of information gathering, diagnosis, and management, training level appeared to have no impact. Numerous important performance deficits were identified in all groups. Conclusion: Medical students and surgery residents are not receiving adequate training in diagnosing and treating important problems in surgical oncology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-212
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1994


  • Assessment
  • Clinical competence
  • Objective structured clinical examination
  • Surgical oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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