Purpose: Time constraints on the teaching and evaluation of residents continue to alter the way in which medical knowledge must be imparted and assessed. Lifelong learning is a component of the practice-based learning competency. A portfolio is one way to assess practice-based learning, but its use is unfamiliar to most surgical programs. The authors describe the evolution of the Surgical Learning and Instructional Portfolio (SLIP) into a worthwhile educational tool. Methods: In March 2001, the authors began a program to encourage residents to develop a case-based portfolio to document their experience and demonstrate acquisition of knowledge in caring for a variety of surgical diseases. The monthly case topic was chosen by the resident and reported using a template: case history, supporting diagnostic studies, differential diagnosis, final diagnosis with ICD-9 coding, management options, treatment used, 3 lessons learned, embellishment of 1 lesson, and 2 articles supporting the experience. Initially, cases were submitted to the program coordinator and reviewed every 6 months with a faculty advisor to provide feedback. Results: After the first 18 months of this program, resident compliance was less than 50%, satisfaction was low, and formal review did not occur. In July 2004, a single faculty member became responsible for evaluating and providing feedback on the monthly SLIPs. The assignments were handled electronically with feedback delivered within the month via e-mail. SLIP quality as measured by resident compliance and satisfaction improved. Conclusion: These SLIPs have matured into a valuable educational tool satisfying multiple ACGME competencies. This portfolio system required direct faculty feedback to become successful.
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