British surgeons' experiences of mandatory online workplace-based assessment.
Pereira EAC., Dean BJF.
OBJECTIVES: An online workplace-based assessment tool, the Intercollegiate Surgical Curriculum Programme (ISCP), has become mandatory for all British surgical trainees appointed since August 2007. A compulsory pound125 annual trainee fee has also been introduced to fund its running costs. The study sought to evaluate user satisfaction with the ISCP. DESIGN AND SETTING: A total of 539 users across all surgical specialties (including 122 surgeons acting as assessors) were surveyed in late 2008 by online questionnaire regarding their experiences with the ISCP. RESULTS: Sixty-seven percent had used the tool for at least one year. It was rated above average by only 6% for its registration process and only 11% for recording meetings and objectives. Forty-nine percent described its online assessments as poor or very poor, only 9% considering them good or very good. Seventy-nine percent rated the website's user friendliness as average or worse, as did 72% its peer-assessment tool and 61% its logbook of procedures. Seventy-six percent of respondents had carried out paper assessments due to difficulties using the website. Six percent stated that the ISCP had impacted negatively on their training opportunities, 41% reporting a negative impact overall upon their training; only 6% reported a positive impact. Ninety-four percent did not consider the trainee fee good value, only 2% believing it should be paid by the trainee. CONCLUSIONS: The performance of the ISCP leaves large numbers of British surgeons unsatisfied. Its assessments lack appropriate evidence of validity and its introduction has been problematic. With reducing training hours, the increased online bureaucratic burden exacerbates low morale of trainees and trainers, adversely impacting potentially upon both competency and productivity.