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Am J Surg. 2003 Apr;185(4):319-22.

Self-assessment in simulation-based surgical skills training.

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Department of Surgery, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, PO Box 19638, Springfield, IL 62794-9638, USA.



Simulation-based training provides minimal feedback and relies heavily on self-assessment. Research has shown medical trainees are poor self-assessors. The purpose of this study was to examine trainees' ability to self-assess technical skills using a simulation-trainer.


Twenty-one medical students performed 10 repetitions of a simulated task. After each repetition they estimated their time and errors made. These were compared with the simulator data.


Task time (P < 0.0001) and errors made (P < 0.0001) improved with repetition. Both self-assessment curves reflected their actual performance curves (P < 0.0001). Self-assessment of time did not improve in accuracy (P = 0.26) but error estimation did (P = 0.01) when compared with actual performance.


Novices demonstrated improved skill acquisition using simulation. Their estimates of performance and accuracy of error estimation improved with repetition. Clearly, practice enhances technical skill self-assessment. These results support the notion of self-directed skills training and could have significant implications for residency training programs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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