April 1, 2021

Non-technical skill assessments across levels of US surgical training

Pradarelli, J.C., Gupta, A., Hermosura, A.H.,  Murayama, K.M., Delman, K.A., Shabahang, M.M., Havens, J.M., Lipsitz, S., Smink, D.S., Yule, S.

Pending PubMed Central Publication

Background: To ensure safe patient care, regulatory bodies worldwide have incorporated non-technical skills proficiency in core competencies for graduation from surgical residency. We describe normative data on non-technical skill ratings of surgical residents across training levels using the US-adapted Non-Technical Skills for Surgeons (NOTSS-US) assessment tool.

Methods: We undertook an exploratory, prospective cohort study of 32 residents-interns (postgraduate year 1), junior residents (postgraduate years 2-3), and senior residents (postgraduate years 4-5)-across 3 US academic surgery residency programs. Faculty went through online training to rate residents, directly observed residents while operating together, then submitted NOTSS-US ratings on specific resident’s intraoperative performance. Mean NOTSS-US ratings (total range 4-20, sum of category scores; situation awareness, decision-making, communication/teamwork, leadership each ranged 1-5, with 1=poor, 3=average, 5=excellent) were stratified by residents’ training level and adjusted for resident-, rater-, and case-level variables, using mixed-effects linear regression.

Results: For 80 operations, the overall mean total NOTSS-US rating was 12.9 (standard deviation, 3.5). The adjusted mean total NOTSS-US rating was 16.0 for senior residents, 11.6 for junior residents, and 9.5 for interns. Adjusted differences for total NOTSS-US ratings were statistically significant across the following training levels: senior residents to interns (6.5; 95% confidence interval, 4.3-8.7; P < .001), senior to junior residents (4.4; 95% confidence interval, 2.5-6.2; P < .001), and junior residents to interns (2.1; 95% confidence interval, 0.3-3.9; P = .017). Differences in adjusted NOTSS-US ratings across residents’ training levels persisted for individual NOTSS-US behavior categories.

Conclusion: These data and online training materials can support US residency programs in determining competency-based performance milestones to develop surgical trainees’ non-technical skills.

Download PDF

Publication Archive

Sort through our publications archive by year. A downloadable PDF is available for each publication.