Changing the Status Quo: Developing a Virtual Sub-Internship in the Era of COVID-19

David Mikhail, Ezra J. Margolin, John Sfakianos, Marisa Clifton, Mathew Sorenson, Simone Thavaseelan, George Haleblian, Louis Kavoussi, Gina M. Badalato, Lee Richstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problem: Subinternships are integral to medical education as tools for teaching and assessing fourth-year medical students. Social distancing due to COVID-19 has precluded the ability to offer in-person subinternships – negatively impacting medical education and creating uncertainty surrounding the residency match. With no precedent for the development and implementation of virtual subinternships, the Society of Academic Urologists (SAU) developed an innovative and standardized curriculum for the Virtual Subinternship in Urology (vSIU). Methods: The vSIU committee's mandate was to create a standardized curriculum for teaching foundational urology and assessing student performance. Thirty-three members from 23 institutions were divided into working groups and given 3 weeks to develop 10 modules based on urologic subspecialties, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education core competencies, technical skills training and student assessment. Working groups were encouraged to develop innovative learning approaches. The final curriculum was assembled into the “vSIU Guidebook.” Results: The vSIU Guidebook contains 212 pages – 64 pages core content and 2 appendices (patient cases and evaluations). It outlines a detailed 4-week curriculum with a sufficient volume of resources to offer a completely adaptable virtual course with the same rigor as a traditional subinternship. Modules contain curated teaching resources including journal articles, lectures, surgical videos and simulated clinical scenarios. Innovative learning tools include reflective writing, mentorship guidelines, videoconference-based didactics, surgical simulcasting and virtual technical skills training. The guidebook was disseminated to program directors nationally. Next Steps: The vSIU is the first virtual subinternship in any specialty to be standardized and offered nationally, and it was implemented by at least 19 urology programs. This curriculum serves as a template for other specialties looking to develop virtual programs and feedback from educators and students will allow the curriculum to evolve. As the pandemic continues to challenge our paradigm, this rapid and innovative response exemplifies that the medical community will continue to meet the needs of an ever-changing educational landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1544-1555
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Curriculum Development
  • Education During Pandemics
  • Electives
  • Medical Education
  • Virtual Education
  • Virtual Electives
  • Virtual Subinternships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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