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Improved Strategies for Teaching Surgical Skills to Medical Students: Simulation and Beyond

Purpose: Develop a curriculum to optimize surgical skills and to increase operating room (OR) opportunities for medical students.


Background: Simulation-based strategies for teaching surgical skills are evolving. Using an innovative task trainer, we compared one-on-one deliberate practice to video-based self-guidance in the performance of two-handed knot tying and subcuticular suturing during the OBGYN clerkship.


Methods: A randomized prospective trial compared two groups of third year medical students in the same clerkship rotations. Group A received one-on-one deliberate practice undergoing three sessions with an instructor and Group B received unlimited access to video-based self-guided practice over six weeks. At the end of the clerkship, surgical performance was assessed using the validated checklist. Self-reported data regarding OR experience was collected using a specifically designed phone application.


Results: Fifty-nine students participated in the study. Group A demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in two-handed knot tying and subcuticular suturing in pre-post assessments (knot-tying +4.34, p<0.001; suturing +19.4, p<0.001). Group B demonstrated a statistically significant improvement (knot-tying +6.03, p<0.001; suturing +22.3, p<0.001). No significant differences were found between groups in overall knot-tying (p=0.13), suturing (p=0.14), hours practiced (p=0.90), or number of OR cases (p=0.49).


Discussions: The use of simulation significantly improved surgical skills for all students from baseline. No differences were found between one-on-one deliberate practice and video-based self-guided practice. Both instructional strategies provided equal efficacy in teaching surgical skills and optimizing surgical performance for students during the OBGYN clerkship.


Topics: CREOG & APGO Annual Meeting, 2018, Student, Resident, Faculty, Clerkship Director, Patient Care, GME, Simulation, Independent Study, General Ob-Gyn,

General Information

Student,Resident,Faculty,Clerkship Director,
Patient Care,
Simulation,Independent Study,
Clinical Focus
General Ob-Gyn,

Author Information

Eva Welch, MD

Inova Fairfax Hospital

Sali Jordan, MD; Francine McLeod, MD; Emily Marko, MD; and Michael Sheridan, ScD

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