Virtual medical student dermatologic surgery workshop increases confidence in suturing and skin biopsy skills in the era of COVID-19

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Emily Dando, MD
Angela Guerrero, MD
Mary-Katharine Collins
Alaina J. James


medical education, dermatologic surgery, virtual education, suturing


Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, many pre-clinical medical school courses were conducted virtually. In order to increase exposure to basic procedures in the remote learning setting, our group developed a virtual dermatologic surgery workshop.

Objective: To evaluate whether a virtual dermatologic surgery workshop increases medical student confidence in their ability to perform suturing and skin biopsies.

Methods: All 147 second-year medical students at the University of Pittsburgh watched 70 minutes of pre-recorded lectures that introduced suturing, skin biopsies, and other dermatologic procedures. Each student was provided with a suturing kit to remotely practice the following skills: simple interrupted suture, simple running suture, horizontal mattress suture, vertical mattress suture, running subcuticular suture, shave biopsy, and punch biopsy. Pre- and post-workshop surveys were distributed to the students and paired using a randomized de-identified number.

Results: 117 (80%) students completed the pre-survey and 71 (48%) completed the post-survey. 61 (41%) responses were paired. The average baseline level of confidence ranged from 1.0 on a 10-point scale for subcuticular running suture to 2.4 for simple interrupted suture. The average level of confidence increased after the workshop for each skill, ranging from 3.7 for subcuticular running suture to 8.0 for instrument tie. In the paired responses, the average level of confidence increased significantly for each skill by an average of 5.5 points (SD=1.1, p<.001).

Conclusions: A virtual, asynchronous dermatologic surgery workshop significantly increases medical student confidence in their ability to perform suturing and skin biopsies.


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