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1.  Relationship of creative projects in anatomy to medical student professionalism, test performance and stress: an exploratory study 
The anatomy course offers important opportunities to develop professionalism at an early stage in medical education. It is an academically significant course that also engenders stress in some students.
Over a three-year period, 115 of 297 students completed creative projects. Thirty-four project completers and 47 non-completers consented to participate in the study. Projects were analyzed for professionalism themes using grounded theory. A subset of project completers and non-completers were interviewed to determine their views about the stress of anatomy and medical school, as well as the value of the creative projects. We also compared test performance of project completers and non-completers.
Projects completed early in the course often expressed ambivalence about anatomy, whereas later projects showed more gratitude and sense of awe. Project completers tended to report greater stress than noncompleters, but stated that doing projects reduced stress and caused them to develop a richer appreciation for anatomy and medicine. Project completers performed significantly lower than non-completers on the first written exam (pre-project). Differences between groups on individual exams after both the first and second creative project were nonsignificant.
For some students, creative projects may offer a useful way of reflecting on various aspects of professionalism while helping them to manage stress.
PMCID: PMC2775735  PMID: 19887011
2.  Immediate Impact of an Intensive One-Week Laparoscopy Training Program on Laparoscopic Skills Among Postgraduate Urologists 
Laparoscopic techniques are difficult to master, especially for surgeons who did not receive such training during residency. To help urologists master challenging laparoscopic skills, a unique 5-day mini-residency (M-R) program was established at the University of California, Irvine. The first 101 participants in this program were evaluated on their laparoscopic skills acquisition at the end of the 5-day experience.
Two urologists are accepted per week into 1 of 4 training modules: (1) ureteroscopy/percutaneous renal access; (2) laparoscopic ablative renal surgery; (3) laparoscopic reconstructive renal surgery; and (4) robot-assisted prostatectomy. The program consists of didactic lectures, pelvic trainer and virtual reality simulator practice, animal and cadaver laboratory sessions, and observation or participation in human surgeries. Skills testing (ST) simulating open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgery is assessed in all of the M-R participants on training days 1 and 5. Tests include ring transfer, suture threading, cutting, and suturing. Performance is evaluated by an experienced observer using the Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skill (OSATS) scoring system. Statistical methods used include the paired sample t test and analysis of variance at a confidence level of P≤0.05.
Between July 2003 and June 2005, 101 urologists participated in the M-R program. The mean participant age was 47 years (range, 31 to 70). The open surgical format had the highest ST scores followed by the robotic and then the laparoscopic formats. The final ST scores were significantly higher than the initial ST scores (P<0.05) for the laparoscopic (58 vs. 52) and the robotic (114 vs. 95) formats. Open surgical ST scores did not change significantly during the training program (191 vs. 194) (P=0.17).
Laparoscopic and robotic ST scores, but not open ST scores, improved significantly during this intensive 5-day M-R program. The robotic ST scores demonstrated greater improvement than did the laparoscopic ST scores, suggesting that the transfer of laparoscopic skills may be improved using the robotic interface.
PMCID: PMC3016039  PMID: 18402731
Surgical education; Skills training; Laparoscopy; Robotic surgery

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