Surgical skills training: time to start early

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Abstract

Background:

Changes in undergraduate medical curricula, combined with reforms in postgraduate education, have training implications for surgical skills acquisition in a climate of reduced clinical exposure. Confidence and prior experience influences the educational impact of learning. Currently there are limited formal basic surgical skills programmes integrated into UK undergraduate curricula.

Context:

Early skills targeting is valuable for students entering surgical, related allied specialties and even traditionally non-surgical specialties, such as General Practice. Such experience can make students more confident and subsequently competent future junior doctors and trainees.

Innovation:

The integration of skills training through the use of simple low-fidelity training models can bridge the gap between undergraduate skills education and postgraduate training, whereas approaches involving more recent advances in simulation may prepare students further by making available more contextualised and scenario-based learning environments.

Implications:

We suggest that it is an ideal time for the introduction of dedicated basic surgical skills programmes into UK undergraduate medical curricula. Training will benefit all students. Importantly, training can inspire confidence, clinical interest, and can also provide a solid foundation of skills that can support and enable junior doctors’ further postgraduate training.

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