Evaluation of a Role for Virtual Neurosurgical Education for Medical Students Over 2 Years of a Global Pandemic

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Background: Subinternships are critical experiences for medical students applying into neurosurgery to acquire knowledge of the field and network with colleagues. During the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, in-person rotations were suspended for 2020 and reduced for 2021. In 2020, our department developed a neurosurgical course to address this need. The course was continued in 2021, enabling assessment of student perceptions as the pandemic progresses. Methods: The virtual course consisted of weekly 1-hour seminars over a 3- to 4-month period. Prior to starting, participants were sent a comprehensive survey assessing their backgrounds, experiences, and confidences in core concepts across neurosurgical subdisciplines. Participants also completed postcourse surveys assessing the course's value and their confidence in the same topics. Responses from students completing both precourse and postcourse surveys were included, analyzed in pairwise fashion, and compared across course years. Results: Students shared similar baseline characteristics in terms of demographics, educational background, and exposure to neurosurgery prior to the course. In the 2020 and 2021 cohorts, quality ratings for presentations were favorable for all seminars, and participants reported significantly increased confidence in core topics across all neurosurgical disciplines after the course (2020: 3.36 ± 0.26, P < 0.0001; 2021: 3.56 ± 0.93, P = 0.005). Most participants felt the course would remain useful following the pandemic in both the 2020 (96.9%) and 2021 (100.0%) cohorts. Conclusions: Survey results suggest that the course adds value for students seeking a basic didactic curriculum to supplement their education, and perhaps, an online curriculum for medical students would still be beneficial going forward as in-person rotations resume.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e253-e262
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Neurosurgery subinternships
  • Neurosurgical education
  • Virtual course


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