The effect of a lecture series and of varying clinical experience on resident performance on a written examination in gastroenterology (GI) were measured. Twenty-four internal medicine residents attended 40 one-hour lectures in GI over a 1-mo period and took a multiple choice examination before and 3 wk after the course. Mean scores increased < 10% after the lecture series. Residents who had taken a 2-mo elective in GI (n = 15) valued it highly as an educational experience, but scored no differently on the examination than those who had not. There was no significant difference in pretest scores based on year of residency. On a similar examination in cardiology, the score of 17 residents who had taken a 2-mo cardiology rotation was identical to that of 12 who had not. The impression of residents of a major gain in knowledge after subspecialty rotation was not confirmed by the objective testing employed. Scores of third-year residents did not differ greatly from those of first-year residents, suggesting that gains in some areas of clinical competence are not measured by this method of testing.
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