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Invited Commentary
December 14, 2016

When and How to Teach Residents to Operate

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Grand Forks
JAMA Surg. Published online December 14, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.4648

In this issue of JAMA Surgery, Hu and colleagues1 report that asking attending surgeons to review the videotapes of complex surgical procedures performed by residents with those residents after completion of the surgery offers additional teaching opportunities and creates educational conversations that differ from those that occur during surgery in frequency and quality. Unknown is whether the knowledge that cases were being videotaped for later coaching might have affected intraoperative teaching and learning behaviors, postponing more difficult or abstract conversations for a less stressful time. Furthermore, it seems unsurprising that surgeons would make more teaching points per hour during a conversation directed solely at coaching than when multitasking during a complex operation on an anesthetized patient. Like much research in surgical education, the article by Hu and colleagues1 stops short of demonstrating that the structured coaching format used actually improved resident performance, but other researchers have previously described subsequent improvements in trainee technique after video-assisted postoperative debriefings.2,3

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