Sustainment of comprehensive procedural skills in trauma surgery is a particular problem for surgeons in rural, global, and combat settings. Trauma care often requires open surgical procedures for low-frequency/high-risk injuries at a time when open surgical experience is declining in general and trauma surgery training.
To determine whether general surgeons participating in a 2-day standardized trauma skills course demonstrate measurable improvement in accuracy and independent performance of specific trauma skills.
General surgeons in active surgical practice were enrolled from a simulation center with anatomic laboratory from October 2019 to October 2020. Differences in pretraining/training and posttraining performance outcomes were examined using (1) pretraining/posttraining surveys, (2) pretraining/posttraining knowledge assessment, and (3) training/posttraining faculty assessment. Analysis took place in November 2020.
A 2-day standardized, immersive, cadaver-based skills course, developed with best practices in instructional design, that teaches and assesses 24 trauma surgical procedures was used.
Trauma surgery capability, as measured by confidence, knowledge, abilities, and independent performance of specific trauma surgical procedures; 3-month posttraining skill transfer.
The study cohort included 65 active-duty general surgeons, of which 16 (25%) were women and 49 (75%) were men. The mean (SD) age was 38.5 (4.2) years. Before and during training, 1 of 65 participants (1%) were able to accurately perform all 24 procedures without guidance. After course training, 64 participants (99%) met the benchmark performance requirements for the 24 trauma procedures, and 51 (78%) were able to perform them without guidance. Procedural confidence and knowledge increased significantly from before to after the course. At 3 months after training, 37 participants (56%) reported skill transfer to trauma or other procedures.
In this study, direct measurement of procedural performance following standardized training demonstrated significant improvement in skill performance in a broad array of trauma procedures. This model may be useful for assessment of procedural competence in other specialties.