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Original Article
Nov 2012

Criterion-Based (Proficiency) Training to Improve Surgical Performance

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York (Drs Fried, Kaye, Gibber, Jackman, Sadoughi, Schiff, and Fraioli); Department of Otolaryngology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut (Dr Paskhover); and Department of Otolaryngology, New York University Medical Center, New York (Dr Jacobs).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012;138(11):1024-1029. doi:10.1001/2013.jamaoto.377

Objective To investigate whether training otorhinolaryngology residents to criterion performance levels (proficiency) on the Endoscopic Sinus Surgery Simulator produces individuals whose performance in the operating room is at least equal to those who are trained by performing a fixed number of surgical procedures.

Design Prospective cohort.

Setting Two academic medical centers in New York City.

Participants Otorhinolaryngology junior residents composed of 8 experimental subjects and 6 control subjects and 6 attending surgeons.

Intervention Experimental subjects achieved benchmark proficiency criteria on the Endoscopic Sinus Surgery Simulator; control subjects repeated the surgical procedure twice.

Main Outcome Measures Residents completed validated objective tests to assess baseline abilities. All subjects were videotaped performing an initial standardized surgical procedure. Residents were videotaped performing a final surgery. Videotapes were assessed for metrics by an expert panel.

Results Attendings outperformed the residents in most parameters on the initial procedure. Experimental and attending groups outperformed controls in some parameters on the final procedure. There was no difference between resident groups in initial performance, but the experimental subjects outperformed the control subjects in navigation in the final procedure. Most important, there was no difference in final performance between subgroups of the experimental group on the basis of the number of trials needed to attain proficiency.

Conclusions Simulator training can improve resident technical skills so that each individual attains a proficiency level, despite the existence of an intrinsic range of abilities. This proficiency level translates to at least equal, if not superior, operative performance compared with that of current conventional training with finite repetition of live surgical procedures.