Development of Vascular Surgery Skills During General Surgery Training

Christopher J. Kwolek, Michael B. Donnelly, Eric D. Endean, David A. Sloan, Thomas H. Schwarcz, Gordon L. Hyde, Richard W. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We previously have shown that performance on the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) part II examination does not reflect clinical skills. Many training programs use the American Board of Surgery In-Service Training Examination (ABSITE) as the only objective measure of clinical knowledge. This study evaluates the utility of the ABSITE and an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) in measuring vascular clinical skills during general surgery residency training. Methods: Residents' mean scores on the vascular section of an OSCE were compared with their mean overall scores on the OSCE by using a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Residents' performance on each clinical section of the ABSITE (body as a whole; gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems; genitourinary/head and neck/musculoskeletal, and endocrine) and a vascular subsection (VASC) were evaluated by using ANOVA. Results: Mean vascular scores were significantly lower than mean overall scores for residents at all levels of training (P < 0.0001). Fischer's PLSD (plausible least significant difference) post hoc test revealed that significant improvement occurred between the intern and junior years (P < 0.05), but not between the junior and senior years. In contradistinction, VASC ABSITE scores were better than all other scores for both junior and senior residents, but not for interns (senior: VASC = 96%, other = 79%, P = 0.04; junior: VASC = 84%, other = 64%, P = 0.02; intern: VASC = 63%, other = 50%, P = 0.12). Conclusions: It is assumed that residents completing residency training are competent to perform clinical vascular examinations. Our findings paradoxically showed that although residents scored highest on the clinical vascular section of the ABSITE, they scored lowest on the vascular section of the OSCE. Although both tests found evidence of improvement between the intern and junior years, neither test found a significant improvement in vascular performance between the junior and senior years. These results emphasize that ABSITE scores do not necessarily correlate with clinical competence, and they demonstrate the need for providing more objective measures of clinical performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-135
Number of pages7
JournalVascular and Endovascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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