A boot camp for skill

More than 15 million inpatient surgeries and 48 million outpatient surgeries are performed annually in the United States. More than 15% of all inpatient surgeries involve significant complications, increasing costs by as much as $11,000 per incident. Two-thirds of all potentially preventable major complications can be categorized as technical errors, associated with a skill set that can vary greatly among surgeons; better technical skills are related to improved patient outcomes.

In short, skill acquisition and optimization are an essential aspect of surgical residency. But how can we ensure this importance is reflected in training?

Tyler Loftus, MD, assistant professor with the UF Department of Surgery and an acute care surgeon at UF Health Shands, and collaborators created a surgical skills curriculum that drew on a core trifecta identified as being vital to surgical success and skill acquisition: Interactive instruction, deliberate practice, and benchmarking progress.

The result? A surgical skills boot camp where trainees were incentivized toward self-guided deliberate practice, and compete in semiannual performance assessments. A study assessed the curriculum’s efficacy with the hypothesis that first-year residents in the intervention group would develop better surgical skills than second-year residents in the control group.

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