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This article is the author's final published version in JSES Reviews, Reports, and Techniques, Volume 2, Issue 3, August 2022, Pages 340 - 344.

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Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of American Shoulder & Elbow Surgeons.

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license


Background: It is critical for orthopedic surgery residents and residency programs to have a current understanding of the content and resources utilized by the Orthopedic In-Training Examination (OITE) to continuously guide study and educational efforts. This study presents an updated analysis of the shoulder and elbow section of the OITE. Methods: All OITE questions, answers, and references from 2013 to 2019 were reviewed. The number of shoulder and elbow questions per year was recorded, and questions were analyzed for topic, imaging modalities, cognitive taxonomy, and references. We compared our data to the results of a previous study that analyzed shoulder and elbow OITE questions from 2002 to 2007 to examine trends and changes in this domain overtime. Results: There were 177 shoulder and elbow questions (126 shoulder, 71.2%; 51 elbow, 28.8%) of 1863 OITE questions (9.5%) over a 7-year period. The most commonly tested topics included degenerative joint disease/stiffness/arthroplasty (31.6%), anatomy/biomechanics (16.9%), instability/athletic injury (15.3%), trauma (14.7%), and rotator cuff (13.6%). Half of all questions involved clinical management decisions (49.7%). A total of 417 references were cited from 56 different sources, the most common of which were the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery (23.3%), Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (20.4%), and Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (American Volume) (16%). The average time lag from article publication to OITE reference was 7.7 years. Compared with a prior analysis from 2002 to 2007, there was a significant increase in the number of shoulder and elbow questions on the OITE (5.5% to 9.5%; P <.001). Recent exams incorporated more complex multistep treatment questions (4.4% vs. 49.7%; P <.001) and fewer recall questions (42.2% vs. 22%; P <.001). There was a significant increase in the use of imaging modalities (53.3% vs. 79.1%; P <.001). No significant differences in the distribution of question topics were found. Conclusions: The percentage of shoulder and elbow questions on the OITE has nearly doubled over the past decade with greater emphasis on critical thinking (eg, clinical management decisions) over recall of facts. These findings should prompt educators to direct didactic efforts (eg, morning conferences and journal club) toward case-based learning to foster critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills.

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