BACKGROUND: Third-year medical students' complaints focus on the number of hours worked and subsequent lack of study time among three general surgery blocks. We hypothesize that this difference between the surgical blocks does not adversely influence student examination scores. METHODS: Student scores for the academic years 1996-97 to 1997-98 for the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) surgery subtests were compiled. A comparison of two 'slow' general surgery blocks (B/C) with one 'busy' block (A) was made using a two- tailed t test. A multiple regression analysis was also employed. Finally, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) part I scores were used to determine equivalency of groups. RESULTS: NO significant difference existed between block A and blocks B/C in USMLE part I and NBME (P = 0.35 and 0.16 respectively). However, USMLE and rotation sequence influenced NBME scores (P <0.001). CONCLUSION: The data suggest that no difference exists in examination scores between students assigned to a busy general surgery block versus those students assigned to slow blocks.
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