Self-assessment in neurological surgery: The SANS wired white paper

Brian Ragel, Anthony L. Asher, Nathan Selden, Joel D. MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Periodic self-assessment is an important component of postgraduate medical education and certification. The Self-assessment in Neurological Surgery (SANS) examination has a history of usefulness for neurosurgical written and oral board examination preparation. The SANS Wired test represents a recreation of the original SANS test using an Internet-based platform. Advanced functionality and contemporary content have been added to meet the increasing requirements for demonstration of lifelong learning and self-assessment as part of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process. METHODS: A needs assessment was performed before the development of SANS Wired. Postexamination surveys for users obtaining continuing medical education credit were analyzed for user satisfaction with the platform and content. Test-item performance metrics were analyzed based on first-attempt responses. The economic value of SANS Wired as a component of the mandatory MOC process was evaluated. RESULTS: The needs assessment identified a deficiency of available content and mechanisms for neurosurgery-specific self-assessment. As of October 15, 2005, a total of 588 individuals had subscribed to SANS Wired (28 institutional licenses accounted for 229 users). Eighty-eight post-test surveys were analyzed for user satisfaction. Ninety-four percent of responses indicated that learning objectives had been met. Initial performance metrics show an average point-biserial discrimination index of +0.18 for all test items. CONCLUSION: The SANS Wired system seems to be an effective platform for neurosurgical self-assessment and is acceptable to users. The system satisfies, in part, two of the four required components of MOC, namely, periodic self-assessment and demonstration of cognitive expertise. It is endorsed by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons for MOC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-765
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006


  • Maintenance of certification
  • Online self-assessment tool
  • Self-assessment in Neurological Surgery
  • Self-assessment in Neurological Surgery Wired

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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