Predictors of success on the written anesthesiology board certification examination

Peggy Y. Kim1, David A. Wallace2, David W. Allbritton3 and Michael D. Altose2

1Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, USA

2Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, USA

3Department of Psychology, DePaul University, USA

Submitted: 09/07/2012; Accepted: 04/11/2012; Published: 25/11/2012

Int J Med Educ. 2012; 3:225-235; doi: 10.5116/ijme.5096.5d66

© 2012 Peggy Y. Kim et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: To determine whether information available prior to and during anesthesia residency training can predict American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) Part 1 (Written) performance and help identify anesthesia residents at risk for failure.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of 97 anesthesiology residents' academic files at a single Midwestern residency program. ABA Part 1 score was used as the dependent variable. Categorical demographic predictor variables included gender, under-represented minority status, and type of medical degree. Quantitative academic predictor variables included first-attempt scores on United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Steps 1 and 2, annual ABA In-Training Exam (ITE) scores, and biannual Basic Science Examination (BSE) scores. Predictors that correlated significantly with the dependent variable were entered into stepwise linear regression analyses.

Results: In our analyses, only the USMLE Step 2 score was a significant pre-residency predictor (B=0.169; SE=0.031, p<0.001). Scores on ITEs were significant predictors at every time point. In the final regression model using all available measures during residency, the most recent ITE (B = 0.627; SE=0.090; p<0.001) and BSE (B=0.096; SE = 0.047; p=0.046) scores were significant predictors. The model accounted for 52% of the variance in the outcome variable, with 50% of the variance explained by ITE score alone. The model had a specificity of 0.83 and a sensitivity of 0.82 for predicting passing the ABA Part 1 exam.

Conclusions: First-attempt scores on the USMLE Step 2 examination and the CA-2 ITE are moderately strong predictors of anesthesiology board examination perfor-mance, and may help target residents who are at risk of failing.