Challenges during the implementation of a laparoscopic skills curriculum in a busy general surgery residency program

Dimitrios Stefanidis, Christina E Acker, Dawn Swiderski, B Todd Heniford, Frederick L Greene
Journal of Surgical Education 2008, 65 (1): 4-7
The purpose of this article is to describe our experience with the incorporation of a proficiency-based laparoscopic skills curriculum in a busy surgical training program that aims to improve the technical proficiency of residents. The curriculum has a cognitive component and a manual skills component and is adjusted to resident training level. It is based on the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery program and includes basic laparoscopic virtual-reality tasks of the Lap Mentor simulator (Simbionix USA Corp., Cleveland, Ohio). Training occurs in weekly 1-hour sessions until expert-derived performance goals are achieved. Maintenance training ensures skill retention. Performance is assessed with objective metrics and is supported with feedback and an award system. Resident workload is assessed at regular intervals. Knowledge tests and manual skills tests are administered at the beginning and end of the academic year to assess resident performance improvement and curriculum effectiveness. Resident attendance rates and training progress are monitored continuously, and training sessions are adjusted to individual needs. Our curriculum has been implemented for several months. Our experience so far suggests that it is imperative to have dedicated supervising personnel and dedicated training time in the busy week of the surgical resident to ensure attendance. Our next step is to incorporate the 20 modules of the new Association of Program Directors in Surgery (ADPS)/American College of Surgeons (ACS) national skills curriculum into our skills training program, to expand its cognitive component by incorporating additional procedural videos, and to adapt scenario-based training on trauma and critical care on human patient simulators.

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