Correlating surgical clerkship evaluations with performance on the National Board of Medical Examiners examination
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Background: Evaluation of medical students during the surgical clerkship is controversial. Performance is often based on subjective scoring, whereas objective knowledge is based on written examinations. Whether these measures correspond or are relevant to assess student performance is unknown. We hypothesized that student evaluations correlate with performance on the National Board Of Medical Examiners (NBME) examination. Methods: Data were collected from the 2011–2012 academic year. Medical students underwent a ward evaluation using a seven-point Likert scale assessing six educational competencies. Students also undertook the NBME examination, where performance was recorded as a percentile score adjusted to national standards. Results: A total of 129 medical students were studied. Scores on the NBME ranged from the 52nd to the 96th percentile with an average in the 75th percentile (±9). Clerkship scores ranged from 3.2–7.0 with a mean of 5.7 (±0.8). There was a strong positive association between higher NBME scores and higher clerkship evaluations shown by a Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.47 (P < 0.001). Students clustered with below average ward evaluations (3.0–4.0) were in the 69.5th percentile of NBME scores, whereas students clustered with above average ward evaluations (6.0–7.0) were in the 79.2th percentile (P < 0.001). Conclusions: A strong positive relationship exists between subjective ward evaluations and NBME performance. These data may afford some confidence to surgical faculty and surgical resident ability to accurately evaluate medical students during clinical clerkships. Understanding factors in student performance may help in improving the surgical clerkship experience.
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