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Vascular Mock Oral Exams: A Review of the Eight Year Experience of the SAVS Mock Oral Program
Matthew P Goldman1, Jeanette Stafford1, Thomas S Huber2, John F Eidt3, Kimberly J Hansen1, Thomas C Naslund4, Spence M Taylor3, Eric D Endean5, Matthew S Edwards1
1Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC;2University of Florida, Gainesville, FL;3Greenville Health System University Medical Center, Greenville, SC;4Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN;5University of Kentucky School of Medicine, Lexington, KY

BACKGROUND- In 2006 the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery (SAVS) implemented a mock oral examination program for current vascular trainees to help prepare them for the Vascular Surgery Certifying examination (VCE) of the American Board of Surgery (ABS). This report examines the eight year experience with that program.
METHODS- The SAVS mock oral examinations were structured to conform as closely as possible to the VCE. Examinees were administered three 30 minute examinations by examiners with whom they had no affiliation using a structured set of examination materials. Examinations were graded according to the contemporary standards of the ABS and examinees were provided direct feedback from examiners at a debriefing session after the exam. A letter detailing examinee performance was also mailed to their program director.
Participating examinees and examiners were identified from SAVS Recorder records and contacted via email with a request to participate in an anonymous online survey. The survey for examinees asked about passage on ABS examinations and perceptions of the SAVS mock oral program. Examiners were asked for their perceptions of applicant performance as well as perceived areas for training improvement. Data were summarized using counts and percentages.
RESULTS- From 2006-2014, 158 examinees and 86 examiners participated in the SAVS mock orals program. Thirty-three percent of examinees contacted and 35% of examiners contacted completed the anonymous survey. Twenty-seven examinees (60%) reported passage of the SAVS mock oral exam on their first attempt and 7/9 (78%) reported passage on the second attempt. Stage in training was found to be significantly associated with passage of the mock orals (P=0.002 Fisher’s exact test), with second year fellowship trainees performing substantially better than first year trainees.
Overall, examinees participating in the SAVS program reported a first-time VCE pass rate of 93% (27/29). A recent ABS communication to Vascular Surgery program directors reported a first-time national pass rate of 83% for 2008-2013. A separate query of VCE passage for the examinee cohort is currently underway through ABS psychometricians (to ensure confidentiality) and those results will be added to this presentation when available.
Ninety-five percent (42/44) of those who took the SAVS mock orals reported that they will (or have) used the SAVS mock orals as a guide to their preparation for the VCE. One hundred percent of examinees questioned ‘would recommend’ the SAVS mock oral examinations to future trainees. Ninety percent of examiners felt as though 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 weaknesses among examinees (80% and 77% respectively).
CONCLUSIONS- The SAVS mock oral program is perceived to be of benefit by examinees and examiners. Reported first-time VCE board passage rates are favorable when compared to national rates. Deficits in the description of open surgical techniques and complication management were commonly noted deficiencies in contemporary vascular surgical trainees.

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