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Effects of repeated oral examinations on ophthalmology residents
  1. M N Wiggins1,
  2. R A Harper1,
  3. R D Landes2,
  4. P S O’Sullivan3
  1. 1
    University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Jones Eye Institute, Little Rock, AR, USA
  2. 2
    University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA
  3. 3
    University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA, USA
  1. M N Wiggins, Jones Eye Institute, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 West Markham, Slot 523, Little Rock, AR 72205-7199, USA; wigginsmichael{at}


Background/aim: Oral examinations are required for board certification in Ophthalmology in the USA. The current literature offers no recommendation on the number of administrations during residency. The purpose of this study was to determine how often oral examinations (OEs) should be administered and what effects repeated OEs might have on residents’ comfort level with OEs and confidence level in their knowledge base.

Methods: From 2004 to 2006, a structured oral examination was administered every 4 months to ophthalmology residents at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. A survey was administered just prior to each oral examination.

Results: After two oral examinations, self-confidence and ability to self-assess one’s knowledge increased and anxiety decreased in the residents. Residents’ belief that they could pass an oral examination for board certification statistically improved after the third oral examination.

Conclusions: To achieve the full benefits of oral examination training, the exam should be taken at least three times during residency. Formal, structured oral examinations, repeated over time, seem to reduce resident anxiety and improve the residents’ ability to realistically assess their level of preparation for an OE.

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  • Funding: This work was supported in part by unrestricted grants from Research to Prevent Blindness and the Pat & Willard Walker Eye Research Center.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Ethics approval was obtained.

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