Understanding Surgical Resident and Fellow Perspectives on Their Operative Performance Feedback Needs: A Qualitative Study

Ricardo J. Bello, Samuel Sarmiento, Meredith L. Meyer, Gedge D. Rosson, Damon S. Cooney, Scott D. Lifchez, Carisa M. Cooney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: Operative performance feedback is essential for surgical training. We aimed to understand surgical trainees′ views on their operative performance feedback needs and to characterize feedback to elucidate factors affecting its value from the resident perspective. Design: Using a qualitative research approach, 2 research fellows conducted semistructured, one-on-one interviews with surgical trainees. We analyzed recurring themes generated during interviews related to feedback characteristics, as well as the extent to which performance rating tools can help meet trainees′ operative feedback needs. Setting: Departments or divisions of general or plastic surgery at 9 US academic institutions. Participants: Surgical residents and clinical fellows in general or plastic surgery. Results: We conducted 30 interviews with 9 junior residents, 14 senior residents, and 7 clinical fellows. Eighteen (60%) participants were in plastic and 12 (40%) were in general surgery. Twenty-four participants (80%) reported feedback as very or extremely important during surgical training. All trainees stated that verbal, face-to-face feedback is the most valuable, especially if occurring during (92%) or immediately after (65%) cases. Of those trainees using performance rating tools (74%), most (57%) expressed positive views about them but wanted the tools to complement and not replace verbal feedback in surgical education. Trainees value feedback more if received within 1 week or the case. Conclusions: Verbal, face-to-face feedback is very or extremely important to surgical trainees. Residents and fellows prefer to receive feedback during or immediately after a case and continue to value feedback if received within 1 week of the event. Performance rating tools can be useful for providing formative feedback and documentation but should not replace verbal, face-to-face feedback. Considering trainee views on feedback may help reduce perceived gaps in feedback demand-versus-supply in surgical training, which may be essential to overcoming current challenges in surgical education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1503
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Patient Care
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  • feedback
  • graduate medical education
  • operative skills
  • resident evaluation
  • resident performance
  • surgical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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