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Original Investigation
April 2015

Free Online Otolaryngology Educational Modules: A Pilot Study

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora
  • 2Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
  • 3Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015;141(4):324-328. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2015.41

Importance  Otolaryngology residents need concise, easily accessible modules to expand educational opportunities between surgical cases. These modules should be inexpensive to create and improve learning outcomes.

Objective  The purpose of this pilot study was to assess whether otolaryngology residents at multiple institutions used online video modules to supplement their studying for the Otolaryngology Training Exam, whether the modules had any effect on their Otolaryngology Training Examination Scores, and to obtain survey feedback about the modules.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This randomized trial was conducted in 3 academic departments of otolaryngology in the United States among 37 residents enrolled in 3 otolaryngology residency programs.

Interventions  Residents were randomized into 2 groups, one with access to the educational modules and the other with no access.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Otolaryngology training examination scores were obtained from the year prior to the intervention (2012) and the year following module access (2013). Residents with access to the modules were also surveyed to assess use and obtain feedback about the modules.

Results  Otolaryngology training examination scores improved significantly from 2012 to 2013 among both residents who had access to the modules and those who did not in the sections of head and neck, laryngology, and sleep medicine. However, scores in the sections of pediatric otolaryngology (8% increase, P = .03), otology (7% increase, P = .02), and facial plastic surgery (10% increase, P = .02) improved from 2012 to 2013 only among residents with access to the modules. All respondents rated the videos as very helpful, with a rating of 4 of 5 on a Likert scale.

Conclusions and Relevance  Online otolaryngology educational modules are an inexpensive way to expand resident learning opportunities. Despite the lack of quantifiable improvement in otolaryngology training examination scores in this study, use of online modules sends a message to otolaryngology residents that their education is a priority; self-study outside the hospital and clinics is necessary and expected; and that instructors are willing to try more nontraditional or progressive forms of education to increase resident knowledge.