The evaluation of a new method of operative competence assessment for surgical trainees

Burt, C.G.; Chambers, E.; Maxted, M.; Grant, J.R.; Markham, N.; Watts, H. and Wilkins, D.C (2003). The evaluation of a new method of operative competence assessment for surgical trainees. Bulletin of the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 85(5) pp. 152–155.




Recent high profile cases of surgical incompetence have damaged public confidence and resulted in the demand for more explicit checks throughout professional practice. The current system of assessing the operative skills of higher surgical trainees (HSTs) involves a single tick-box on the Record of In-service Training Assessment (RITA) form. The form gives no guidance to the trainer as to the expected range of procedures, makes no distinction between each year of training and allows no indication of progress (or otherwise) through the training system. The trainee's logbook is reviewed at the annual assessment, but this record of experience gained does not necessarily reflect the competence level achieved. While operative ability is only one of the skills that the trainee surgeon must acquire, it is a core competency which is not formally assessed at any point in the present system. A new assessment instrument known as the Operative Competence system was developed from previously suggested methods in response to this need.

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