Team-based simulations for new surgeons: Does early and often make a difference?

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Abstract

Background.

Current work hour restrictions and the expansion of requirements for surgery residents has led to decreased time on high-acuity rotations such as trauma and acute care surgery. In an effort to improve resident competency, we examined the efficacy of a new team-based trauma curriculum for postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) residents.

Methods.

After completing required Advanced Trauma Life Support certification, PGY1s participated in a series of trauma simulations in 3-person teams from June to August. Scenarios were created to develop skills related to trauma management, teamwork, and communication. Each simulation was followed by video-based debriefing with a faculty facilitator. Clinical performance on a 1-month trauma rotation during the year was assessed by trauma faculty using a 24-item evaluation assessing management of acutely ill patients, leadership, communication, cooperation, and professionalism on a 1 (poor) to 5 (very effective) scale. Performance metrics of this intern class were compared with 2 years of previous cohorts who had not participated in any trauma-focused simulation curricula. One-way analysis of variance was used to examine differences in performance ratings across groups.

Results.

The 2015 intern class (n = 30) each participated in 6 scenarios during their first 2 months in residency. Trauma as intended specialty and performance on preinternship Advanced Trauma Life Support course were similar across 2013, 2014, and 2015 cohorts. Average performance on the trauma rotation was 3.55 ± 0.56 for the 2013 cohort (n = 11), 3.50 ± 0.57 for the 2014 cohort (n = 11), and 4.35 ± 0.68 for the 2015 cohort (n = 12). Post hoc analyses indicated no difference between means of the 2013 and 2014 cohort. However, the mean of the 2015 cohort was statistically significantly better than both the 2013 cohort (P < .01) and the 2014 cohort (P < .01).

Conclusion.

Trauma-focused simulation improved PGY1 faculty ratings of performance in the clinical setting compared with previous cohorts with no such simulation experience. Adoption of these curricula is both feasible and beneficial.

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