Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 restrictions on in-person simulation activities necessitated modifying the traditional boot camp skills curriculum for matriculating PGY1 general surgery residents to a virtual format. This study investigated the relative effectiveness of in-person versus virtual instruction on the development of suturing and knot-tying skills. Methods: In all, 55 residents participated in a validated, proficiency-based, preinternship skills curriculum, 26 in 2019 and 29 in 2020. Both groups received an introduction to the curriculum, were given time for practice and offered one-on-one tutoring by faculty by request, and completed a filmed posttest. The 2019 class received in-person instruction during a boot camp at the end of June, while the 2020 class was provided with suture kits and received instruction via Zoom throughout June. The 2 groups were compared by post-test performance, date of task proficiency, and additional coaching required. Results: In 2019, 5.7% of the posttest tasks were graded as proficient versus 87% in 2020. The 2020 class outperformed the 2019 class on every metric in every task (P < .001). In 2019, faculty spent 55.5 hours with residents in one-on-one remediation, resulting in proficiency in 64% of the tasks by November. In 2020, 18 hours of one-on-one remediation resulted in proficiency in 92% of the tasks by September. Conclusion: Learners who received virtual instruction with access to materials at home gained proficiency in suturing and knot-tying skills earlier and with less coaching. These data demonstrate that the virtual curriculum is effective and an improvement on the previous in-person curriculum.
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