Introduction: There is great variation in the knowledge base of Emergency Medicine (EM) interns in July. The first objective knowledge assessment during residency does not occur until eight months later, in February, when the American Board of EM (ABEM) administers the in-training examination (ITE). In 2013, the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) released the EM Advanced Clinical Examination (EM-ACE), an assessment intended for fourth-year medical students. Administration of the EM-ACE to interns at the start of residency may provide an earlier opportunity to assess the new EM residents’ knowledge base. The primary objective of this study was to determine the correlation of the NBME EM-ACE, given early in residency, with the EM ITE. Secondary objectives included determination of the correlation of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 or 2 scores with early intern EM-ACE and ITE scores and the effect, if any, of clinical EM experience on examination correlation.
Methods: This was a multi-institutional, observational study. Entering EM interns at six residencies took the EM-ACE in July 2013 and the ABEM ITE in February 2014. We collected scores for the EM-ACE and ITE, age, gender, weeks of clinical EM experience in residency prior to the ITE, and USMLE Step 1 and 2 scores. Pearson’s correlation and linear regression were performed.
Results: Sixty-two interns took the EM-ACE and the ITE. The Pearson’s correlation coefficient between the ITE and the EM-ACE was 0.62. R-squared was 0.5 (adjusted 0.4). The coefficient of determination was 0.41 (95% CI [0.3-0.8]). For every increase of one in the scaled EM-ACE score, we observed a 0.4% increase in the EM in-training score. In a linear regression model using all available variables (EM-ACE, gender, age, clinical exposure to EM, and USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 scores), only the EM-ACE score was significantly associated with the ITE (p<0.05). We observed significant colinearity among the EM-ACE, ITE and USMLE scores. Gender, age and number of weeks of EM prior to the ITE had no effect on the relationship between EM-ACE and the ITE.
Conclusion: Given early during intern year, the EM-ACE score showed positive correlation with ITE. Clinical EM experience prior to the in-training exam did not affect the correlation.