Course Design and Learning Outcomes of a Practical Online Ergonomics Course for Surgical Residents

Tianqi G. Smith, Bethany R. Lowndes, Elizabeth Schmida, Sarah B. Lund, Anna R. Linden, Mariela Rivera, Becca L. Gas, M. Susan Hallbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: Course content was designed and the learning outcomes assessed for an online ergonomics course for surgical residents. This course could fulfill an optional Surgical Council on Resident Education (SCORE) curriculum on Surgical Ergonomics. Design: The online course included five 5-minute modules within the residents’ learning system, each ending with an ungraded knowledge question, and a final 5-question multiple-choice retention quiz that allowed infinite attempts. The course was designed by ergonomists and surgeons at a quaternary academic hospital system. Participants were given two weeks to complete the modules. An electronic survey with questions assessing ergonomics knowledge and understanding on a 5-point Likert scale (strongly disagree - strongly agree) was distributed both before and after the course. The post-course survey included three additional questions to elicit feedback regarding learning experience and course design. Descriptive statistics and nonparametric paired comparisons were used to evaluate learning outcomes. Setting: General surgery residency program at an academic medical center in the U.S. Participants: Twenty-two general surgery post graduate year 1 residents (PGY1s) were recruited to participate and completed the pre-course survey. Eight out of the 22 participants (36%) completed the online course and quiz; seven (32%) completed the course, quiz, and the post-course survey. Results: Participants had high pre-course awareness of the importance of surgical ergonomics, benefits of work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) prevention, as well as awkward intraoperative postures being an WMSD risk factor. Participants’ confidence increased significantly from pre- to post-course in ability to assess risk (p = 0.021), but not in ability or willingness to mitigate risky surgical postures. Participants who completed the quiz answered a median of 4 (IQR: [4, 5]) questions correctly. All participants indicated that they would recommend this course to other residents. Conclusions: These short practical ergonomics online learning modules increased surgical residents’ confidence in assessing surgical WMSD risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1489-1499
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Curriculum
  • Surgical Council on Resident Education (SCORE)
  • WMSD assessment
  • WMSD mitigation
  • WMSD prevalence
  • Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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