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Virtual exams: has COVID-19 provided the impetus to change assessment methods in medicine?

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Zhang, James 
Sunil Kumar, Karadi Hari  ORCID logo
Khanduja, Vikas 


AIMS: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and delayed medical and surgical examinations where attendance is required in person. Our article aims to outline the validity of online assessment, the range of benefits to both candidate and assessor, and the challenges to its implementation. In addition, we propose pragmatic suggestions for its introduction into medical assessment. METHODS: We reviewed the literature concerning the present status of online medical and surgical assessment to establish the perceived benefits, limitations, and potential problems with this method of assessment. RESULTS: Global experience with online, remote virtual examination has been largely successful with many benefits conferred to the trainee, and both an economic and logistical advantage conferred to the assessor or organization. Advances in online examination software and remote proctoring are overcoming practical caveats including candidate authentication, cheating prevention, cybersecurity, and IT failure. CONCLUSION: Virtual assessment provides benefits to both trainee and assessor in medical and surgical examinations and may also result in cost savings. Virtual assessment is likely to be increasingly used in the post-COVID world and we present recommendations for the continued adoption of virtual examination. It is, however, currently unable to completely replace clinical assessment of trainees. Cite this article: Bone Jt Open 2021;2(2):111-118.



COVID-19, Exams, FRCS, Online, Virtual

Journal Title

Bone Jt Open

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British Editorial Society of Bone & Joint Surgery