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SA Orthopaedic Journal

On-line version ISSN 2309-8309
Print version ISSN 1681-150X


DACHS, R et al. Assessing musculoskeletal training in South Africa. SA orthop. j. [online]. 2014, vol.13, n.3, pp.57-63. ISSN 2309-8309.

A familiarity with musculoskeletal disorders is vital for medical school graduates. The purpose of this study was to investigate perceived deficiencies in undergraduate education to provide motivation for a restructuring of the curriculum. A basic competency examination in musculoskeletal medicine was used. Group 1 comprised 79 interns in their first postgraduate year. The recommended passing score for the examination was 73.1%. The score for the interns in Group 1 was 45.3%. Seventy-two (91%) of the 79 interns failed to demonstrate basic competency. The examination was reapplied to 53 interns (Group 2), to establish whether a two-month orthopaedic rotation during internship improved performance. The score for the group was 56.8%. 85.7% (18/21) of those who had completed an orthopaedic rotation and 93.8% (30/32) of those who had not completed an orthopaedic rotation failed the assessment. The additional exposure to musculoskeletal medicine during internship did not show statistical benefit (95% CI 58.0-79.5). In summary, 91% of medical-school graduates failed a basic competency examination, and no benefit was found from completing an internship rotation. We believe that undergraduate musculoskeletal education in South Africa is inadequate and that programmes throughout the country should be reassessed.

Keywords : Musculoskeletal education; undergraduate curriculum; basic competency examination; orthopaedic.

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