Development of a tailor-made surgical online learning platform, ensuring surgical education in times of the COVID19 pandemic

S.M. Schmitz*, S. Schipper, M. Lemos, P.H. Alizai, E. Kokott, J.F. Brozat, U.P. Neumann, T.F. Ulmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background During the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the quality of surgical education experiences sudden major restrictions. Students' presence in the operating theater and on wards is reduced to a bare minimum and face-to-face teaching is diminished. Aim of this study was therefore to evaluate alternative but feasible educational concepts, such as an online-only-platform for undergraduates. Objective A new online platform for undergraduate surgical education was implemented. A virtual curriculum for online-only education was designed. MethodsA video-based online platform was designed. Following this, a cohort of medical students participating in a (voluntary) surgical course was randomized into a test and control group. Prior to conducting a written exam, students in the test group prepared using the video platform. Students in the control group prepared with standard surgical text books. Results of the exam were used to compare educational means. Results Students in the test group preparing through the video-based online platform reached significantly higher scores in the written exams (p = 0.0001) than students of the control group. A trend towards reduced preparation time that did not reach statistical significance was detectable in the test group (p = 0.090). Scores of "perceived workload" and "desire to become a surgeon" offered no differences between the groups. (p = 0.474 and 1.000). Conclusions An online-only, virtual curriculum proved feasible for surgical education in undergraduates. While blended learning concepts were applied in both groups, only the test group had access to case-based videos of surgical procedures and scored significantly better in the written exams. Thus, video-based virtual education offers a realistic alternative to face-to-face teaching or conventional text books in times of restricted access to the operating theatre.
Original languageEnglish
Article number196
Number of pages6
JournalBMC Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2021


  • COVID 19
  • Blended learning
  • Flipped classroom
  • Surgical education
  • Virtual curriculum


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