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Surgery. 2010 Aug;148(2):181-6. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2010.04.006.

Improving surgery intern confidence through the implementation of expanded orientation sessions.

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Department of Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.



New surgical interns may be unprepared for job-related tasks and harbor anxiety that could interfere with job performance. To address these problems, we extended our intern orientation with the principal aim of demonstrating the need for expanded instruction on execution of daily tasks. Additionally, we sought to show that an enriched orientation curriculum durably augments intern confidence.


Twenty-one surgical interns participated in an extended orientation program, consisting of interactive didactics, case scenario presentations, and small group discussions. Evaluations collected at completion of orientation and 1-month follow-up assessed self-reported confidence levels on job-related tasks before, immediately afterward, and 1-month after orientation. Statistical analyses were performed using Student t tests (P < .05 significant).


Self-reports of confidence on job-related tasks before the orientation sessions were low; however, program participation resulted in immediate confidence increases in all areas. Evaluations at 1-month follow-up showed persistence of these gains.


Interns reported considerable anxiety in all job-related tasks before orientation. After the sessions, confidence levels were significantly and durably improved in all areas. Our findings suggest the need for specific instruction on job-related tasks of surgical internship and demonstrate the effectiveness of an expanded orientation in improving intern confidence in execution of these tasks.

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