Teaching and assessing technical proficiency in surgical subspecialty fellowships

Susan L. Gearhart, Ming Hsien Wang, Marta Marsh Gilson, Belinda Chen, David E. Kern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To determine how programs are teaching and assessing procedural skills, and their perceived success. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved training programs in pediatric urology and colorectal surgery. PARTICIPANTS: Program directors and recent graduates (2007-2009). RESULTS: Thirty-nine program directors (60%), and 57 graduates (64%) responded; 89.5% of graduates and 94.9% of program directors felt training occurred successfully for the procedures that trainees were performing in their present practice. Nearly 90% of trainees and all program directors reported that there was no formal assessment of procedural competency at the beginning of training, although 66.7% of program directors reported that trainees were assessed "informally." Both program directors and trainees reported dialogue with faculty was the most frequent method used in preparing for operative procedures. Other methods (textbook/atlas, journals, web-based programs, videos) were used less frequently. Program directors with shorter tenure were more likely to use web-based and video methods; younger trainees were less likely to use textbooks/atlases. Faculty feedback on clinical decision-making and postprocedural review were perceived by both program directors and trainees as the most effective assessment methods for improving performance; however, trainees were more likely than program directors to report that postprocedure reviews were not included in their training (15.8% vs 9%, p = 0.045). Patient outcomes, written feedback from peers, and self-assessment were included in most programs, but valued less. Simulation was used in only about half the programs and was valued more highly by trainees than program directors (p = 0.011). CONCLUSIONS: Training in procedural proficiency was viewed as successful by both program directors and graduates. Dialogue with, assessment by, and feedback from faculty were frequently used and most valued; stressing the importance of the facilitator role of faculty in the education of the trainee. These findings provide guidance for the development of newer methods of teaching and assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012


  • fellowship
  • surgical subspecialty
  • technical proficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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